With Amendment 2 taking effect, medical marijuana is legal for patients suffering from chronic pain and illness in Florida.
Doctors in Palm Beach County say they've been inundated with calls from people interested in trying the drug. However, physicians and legislators are working to prevent past issues the state experienced with pill mills and people out of state getting their hands on drugs.
Pain management doctor Richard Sabates of Delray Beach says he will eliminate patients calling in and those who want the drug for recreational use. But he says most of those calling his practice are legitimate.
"They're very legitimate patients," Dr. Sabates said. "They're cancer patients, they're seizure disorders, there's very, very sick people who are calling in who have waited until New Year's, until the magical date of January 3rd to call me. So I'm excited to get started on this."
Dr. Sabates says there are rules to make sure medical marijuana is not being abused. Patients must wait three months after their first visit concerning medical marijuana before a doctor can write a recommendation. Records must also show that the patient has tried other treatments. Patients also must be a Florida resident in order to receive a recommendation in the state of Florida.
"There's a mistaken fear that we're going to open up the floodgates to everybody coming in to get medical marijuana," Dr. Sabates said. "That's not so. Doctors are very conscientious of what their responsibilities are, and our licenses are on the line."
In his office, Dr. Sabates says he will also perform background checks and take urine samples before recommending cannabis.