In 2014, Florida enacted the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act 2014 and established the Office of Compassionate Use (OCU) to administer the regulatory guidelines needed to deliver low-THC and medical cannabis to qualified Florida patients.

As you would expect with any powerful and potentially dangerous drug, the OCU is working to benefit all Floridians by establishing guidelines for production, distribution and use of marijuana-based drugs. Some conditions such as epilepsy don’t respond to the intoxicating drug in marijuana (THC) so it doesn’t make sense to give epilepsy patients potentially addictive THC. The OCU is establishing procedures to provide low-THC marijuana to those patients.

Raw marijuana contains more more than one hundred related compounds called “cannabinoids” including tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. As mentioned THC causes intoxication and can lead to addiction so it makes sense not to give it to patients when it serves no medical purpose.

Years ago, salicylic acid was found in the bark of the willow tree and from it aspirin was first derived. You’ll notice that doctors don’t suggest we chew on willow bark which probably contains other things we don’t want in our system. Nor do doctors tell us to swallow salicylic acid which burns the throat and upsets stomaches. Scientific research was done to identify, extract, purify and standardize the compound that we know today as aspirin.

Similarly, the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act put in motion the needed research, procedures and recommendations to identify any medically valuable parts of marijuana and standardize how those compounds are developed, processed and distributed.

As a society we took time and care with willow bark which, unlike THC products, doesn’t cause addiction or permanently lower IQ or trigger psychotic episodes. Perhaps it makes sense to take the same approach with pot.

To learn more about the OCU’s work, see their website. That site and news reports available on the Internet show that the Department has been systematically carrying out its mandates to establish a safe, secure and compassionate medical distribution system which will be in operation within a few short months — by September 2016.