Jose Hidalgo, co-founder and chief executive officer of Knox Medical, speaks to journalists during the media tour of the company’s new cannabis facility. At right are some of the company’s products.
The passage of Amendment 2 will have far-reaching — and beneficial — effects on ill patients in the Sunshine State. That was one of the messages that executives of Knox Medical, which hosted a tour for the media on Dec. 7, had for the journalists.
Amendment 2, the so-called “Medical-Marijuana Amendment,” becomes law on Jan. 3, 2017. Because it was a constitutional amendment, a supermajority of voters — 60 percent — had to approve it; 71.3 percent did.
A supermajority of voters in 63 of the 67 counties in Florida approved the amendment. In four counties, however, though a majority voted “yes,” the vote was less than 60 percent, according to Ethel Rowland, president of the Florida Cannabis Action Network: Dixie (59.9 percent), Hardee (57.9), Holmes (56.5) and Lafayette (59).
New law will help far more people
Many more patients will benefit, now that Amendment 2 has passed, noted Jose Hidalgo, co-founder and chief executive officer of Knox Medical, in Winter Garden: “The law greatly expands the number of treatable conditions.”
The number of patients in the Sunshine State who are registered to receive medical cannabis stands at about 1,180, according to Hidalgo. But he and Bruce Knox, co-founder and chief operating officer of Knox Medical, both expressed during the tour that they expect that number to increase.
Hidalgo said, “We want to ensure that everyone in Florida who needs this medicine will have access to it.”
Cannabis advocate: Amendment 2 means fewer might die
Jodi James, executive directory for the Florida Cannabis Action Network, also believes that the new amendment will produce widespread benefits — including saving lives.
“Where cannabis is medically available, opiate deaths decrease. Today, Florida physicians have another option for debilitated patients that is known to save lives and increase the patients’ quality of life. That is a win for Florida families,” she said.
She added, “This is the alternative to opiates, not a repeat of pill mills.”
Eligibility is not immediate
To become eligible for low-THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive ingredient) cannabis, a patient must have at least one of the “debilitating medical conditions” defined in the amendment. They include cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
Patients who are diagnosed as having less than one year to live can receive full-strength medical cannabis.
Regardless of whether a patient is terminally ill or has one of the “debilitating medical conditions” outlined in Amendment 2, he or she must have been under a doctor’s care for at least 90 days before becoming eligible for the medicine.
In addition, that physician must be licensed to recommend medical cannabis.
Just the beginning for Knox Medical
Knox Medical made its first delivery of cannabis, to a patient in Orlando, on Dec. 9. The Orlando dispensary is at 1901 N. Orange Ave.
The company plans to open four more dispensaries early next year, in Gainesville, Jacksonville, Tallahassee and Lake Worth. Knox Medical plans to open even more dispensaries later in 2017.
No firm, final prices for Knox’s products have been set. Delivery methods for the cannabis include cartridges, oils and vaporizers.