Across the U.S., including Florida, medical cannabis sales have been surging under the essential status. In March of this year, the Florida Department of Health reported a 40 percent increase in sales in one week. Marijuana doctors have issued more than 373,000 Floridians cannabis certifications since the law was passed in 2016. Like traditional pharmacies, states and local jurisdictions have allowed these locations to keep providing their valuable service to patients.
Marijuana Card Holders are on the Rise
Even before the pandemic, sales were increasing largely due to the allowance of patients to utilize smokable flower if ordered by their certifying physician. In the past 6 weeks alone, dispensaries sold over 232,000 oz of cannabis flowers. Medical marijuana cardholders have increased in Florida by almost 74,000 since the beginning of 2020.
Marijuana physicians around the state are reporting an increase of patients who are pursuing help with anxiety and depression since the COVID-19 epidemic. Stress can also aggravate other medical conditions, prompting patients to seek alternative options to pharmaceuticals.
The extensive list of approved uses may explain the increase in new cardholders. According to Todd Beckworth, the Director of Corporation Affairs for AltMed, the parent company of MUV Dispensaries, the state of Florida is adding more than 3,000 new patients each week. These positive numbers have dispensaries opening up new locations at record rates to meet patients’ demands.
Beckworth explains his thoughts on the trend,
“I think that the numbers are rising because people are just looking for an alternative way to try and beat what they’re going through … No one wants this opioid crisis, no one wants to be saddled down drinking all the time. This is a much healthier option.”
A Continuing Trend with Medical Cannabis Sales in Florida
There are no signs that this trend will slow down. Experts speculate the number of patients with medical cannabis certifications to explode by 2021, growing by over 175,000 in less than a year. In addition, the climate and aging population put it on track to become a leader in cannabis research and development in the U.S. and around the globe.
Similar to the increase in patients seeking medical marijuana doctors and cannabis certification, they also expect the sales to continue. According to analytics posted from Arcview and BDS by the Motley Fool in July 2020, Florida is on track to see one of the most significant increases throughout the U.S. Following California and Colorado. They estimate Floridians will see $1.9 billion in annual sales in 2024. Not only will patients see the help they need through plant-based care, but the state will also get a necessary boost to their economy.
Medical Cannabis Patients Use Delivery Services and are Buying in Bulk
The increases in sales are two-fold—medical marijuana cardholders are increasing in number and buying more. The addition of pick-up at dispensaries and home deliveries is contributing to the boost in sales.
Patients feel safer not having to venture into a small store to purchase products. A delivery service in California, Ease, told Marijuana Business Daily in March that the company has seen a 34% increase in customers using their delivery service.
In Florida, some companies are offering free or discounted delivery for patients over 65 and ones with specific conditions that leave them prone to infections. These changes are a savior for some medical marijuana cardholders. Charity Reece, a patient with rheumatoid arthritis, finds the delivery service ideal. She told the Tampa Bay Times in March, “I don’t want to go in and get what I need.” Reece points out that even drive-thru services are risky. With the number of new cases in Florida more than double in July, patients like Reece are increasing.
To reduce interactions, patients that can are buying cannabis in bulk to limit how often they have to interact with delivery services and in-person shopping. To reduce exposure, most dispensaries are keeping up with distancing, masks, and limiting how many patients can enter the building at once. These ramped up measures are also relieving some anxieties.
An article in the Miami New Times in March found patients were stocking up on medications, including medical marijuana. One patient, Clause Alfaro, 35, explained,
“I purchased about two-and-a-half times my normal purchases,” he tells New Times. “I stocked up on all the flowers and concentrates I use.”
Medical Marijuana Doctors Answer Vital Questions for Patients
As sales rise, returning patients and new patients are seeking answers. Some patients are looking for an exact formula for the amount and consumption methods to treat their condition. Sometimes this can lead to patient confusion, as guidelines exist for recommending cannabis; however, the variance of what works for one patient verse what works for another can be substantial. Compassionate Healthcare of Florida offers consultations with board-certified physicians that have extensive experience in medical cannabis. Earlier this month, the medical providers spoke with the Ritz Herald about expanding access to legal medical cannabis in Florida and patients’ concerns about marijuana dosing.
“We have recommendations for dosage, and what may work best for individual conditions, but it still, unfortunately, involves individual trial and error to find what works best for each patient’s physiology.”
The practice would like customers to understand that while they can provide recommendations, they’re not set in stone. Medical cannabis shows excellent potential to help patients with many conditions, including anxiety, depression, PTSD, chronic pain, and even sleeping difficulties. However, it’s not a one-size-fits-all treatment plan. As mentioned, it can take some trial and error to find the optimal dose and method of use.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a stressful situation. Even people who maintain healthy stress levels are dealing with increases they’ve never experienced before. Many are feeling extreme symptoms of anxiety and depression. People with existing conditions are dealing with dangerous increases in their symptoms.
These escalating problems are making it difficult for them to take care of their day-to-day responsibilities. If you’re experiencing excess stress, high levels of anxiety, or depression, medical marijuana may be able to help you function again and put your life back on the right path.