Medical Marijuana became legal in the state of Florida in 2014, according to Congress, but they only legalized a limited form of medical marijuana, a compound called CBD, and only approved it for epilepsy and seizure patients. It took them until this year to add full strength cannabis, including THC, but decided only those who were terminally ill should be able to access it under the “Right to Try Act” that allows patients with less than a year to live the option of experimental or alternative treatments.
Since then, there have been patients recommended for the program, but none have lived long enough to receive the medical marijuana, due to a 90 day waiting period between first seeing a doctor who recommends it to actually being able to access the medicine. The very first patient to receive full strength medical marijuana in the state of Florida just got their first delivery from Surterra Therapeutics – a fifteen-year-old boy with terminal brain cancer.
After months of research and seeing other physicians and finding out there was nothing more they could do, the parents of Juan Isaiah Cruz III started looking into medical cannabis. It took a while for them to find a doctor in Florida willing to work with them – and even once they did find one, he was uncertain about recommending the medicine at first.
“Day one when his mom brought him to the office, I discouraged him. I’ll be honest,” Rosado said. “I discouraged them and I said this is going to be tough, you know it’s 90 days. I’m not going to give you anything today.”
Dr. Rosado has had other patients he has recommended for medical cannabis who did not make it through that waiting period – and he wanted to let them know there was a chance he would never see this potential treatment. Luckily, Juan made it through and this week he will start using a full strength cannabis spray created by Surterra Therapeutics, in hopes that it will ease some of his pain and possibly even shrink his tumor and extend the time he has left.
“This is the kind of case you never hope to have, but Juju is a fighter and he can be an example of why we should allow more patients to have quicker access,” Rosado said.
This was only a day before the election, where Florida voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of Amendment 2, allowing medical marijuana for a wide variety of debilitating medical conditions. While it will not get rid of the 90 day waiting period, it will allow patients to access medical marijuana earlier on in their diagnosis. This will give the medical cannabis more time to be effective, either saving their life or at the very least providing them with a better quality of life.