The number of doctors signed up to recommend medical marijuana to patients in Florida has exploded this year and now totals more than 1,220.
The Florida Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use, formerly called the Office of Compassionate Use, has been authorizing an average of more than 20 doctors a week this year to assist patients seeking to use marijuana products.
That total has more than quadrupled since Florida votes approved Amendment 2 on Nov. 8 of last year. In the state’s first two years of the program, through the date of that election, just 290 doctors had taken the eight-hour state class and become authorized to approve patients for the program.
Under Amendment 2, the Department of Health is working out regulations for patients to be able to use marijuana products for a wide range of debilitating conditions, as defined by the doctors. Prior to Amendment 2, qualifying conditions were limited to epilepsy and a handful of other neurological conditions, plus cancer.
Meanwhile, the products already are widely for sale. There now are a dozen companies licensed to produce the products from marijuana in Florida, and they have been opening dispensaries one at a time throughout the state.
Data from the Office of Medical Marijuana Use shows health care practitioners authorized to recommend patients for the program now can be found in 47 counties.
By far, the most are in South Florida. The data shows 208 authorized doctors in Miami-Dade County, 118 in Broward, 116 in Palm Beach, and 15 in Monroe.
The Tampa Bay area has 98 authorized physicians in Hillsborough County and another 98 in Pinellas, 22 in Pasco County, 19 in Manatee, and 17 in Polk.
The Central Florida area has 42 such physicians in Orange County, 26 in Seminole, 23 in Lake, 23 in Volusia, 15 in Brevard, and eight in Osceola.
The Jacksonville area has 37 authorized physicians in Duval County, 12 in St. Johns, and six in Clay.
Southwest Florida authorized doctors include 36 in Lee County, 35 in Sarasota, 15 in Collier and 13 in Charlotte.
There are 15 physicians authorized to recommend marijuana-derived medicines in Leon County, and 14 in Alachua County.
Among those physicians, by far the most-common speciality is internal medicine, with more than 400 holding that specialty. At least another 243 doctors listed family medicine, while 134 listed anesthesiology. Among others, at least 77 doctors listed pain management as a specialty, 65 listed various neurology specialties, and at least 65 listed various pediatric specialities.
Most authorized doctors listed more than one speciality, and some listed highly-specialized areas that could fall into one or more of the broader categories.