Even with medical marijuana now legal in Florida, potential patients still face several hurdles

Posted at 10:00 PM, Jan 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-03 22:00:03-05

On the day medical marijuana officially becomes legal in Florida, it's the big question on the minds of many - Am I eligible? 

The answer is complicated.

“If you were to walk into your doctors office today as a brand-new patient, to someone who is licensed to give medical marijuana, you would not receive anything today,” says Dr. Norene Rosado, a family physician in West Palm Beach.

Dr. Rosado is one of about 28 doctors in Palm Beach County licensed to recommend medical marijuana to patients.

Until the Department of Health finishes crafting new regulations for the new law, the only people who can get marijuana fall under the state's old law,  the Compassionate Use Act of 2014, which provides cannabis for a limited number of ailments. 

For everyone else it's a bit of a waiting game, which starts with a visit to a licensed doctor. 

“You would come to the clinic, I would interview you, we would register you,” Dr. Rosado says.

From there, state law requires that you see your doctor for at least 90 days. 

“I can get to know you, I can get to know what your issues are, and what you want to achieve from having medical marijuana,” she says.

After those 90 days are up, the doctor can provide the recommendation, which you would then take to a dispensary. 

The dispensary will give you the dosage and the amount, only in 45-day intervals. 

Although you can't get marijuana today, Dr. Noreen says those who are interested should start the process of getting with a doctor now, while the regulations are still being formed.

For now, treating with medical marijuana will be expensive for patients because insurance won't cover it.

Patients must pay out of pocket for any doctors visits or check-ups concerning the treatment.

They'll also have to pay full-price when they get the drug at dispensaries.

We also contacted several law enforcement agencies - from Boca Raton all the way up to St. Lucie County - to ask them about the new medical marijuana law.

None of them were willing to comment on camera, but the consensus among them was that there just too much we don't know right now.

Members of law enforcement tell us whatever happens, they plan on following and enforcing the laws, as usual.

The Florida Sheriff's Association, which took a stance against the amendment during the November election, sent this statement:

“While the effective date of Amendment 2 is January 3, 2017, the Florida Legislature and Florida Department of Health must issue reasonable regulations necessary for the implementation and enforcement of the law; any further comment before the start of session would be speculative."