Although a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana was passed with the support of 71 percent of Florida voters last year, many lawmakers and citizens were left questioning whether the plant is a legitimate form of medicine. Dr. Jeffrey S. Block, the Florida Medical Association’s designated expert on botanical medicine, worked to clear up that confusion during a wide-ranging discussion presented by Miami Dade College’s Benjamin León School of Nursing Lecture Series. Block, a board-certified anesthesiologist and botanical medicine expert, outlined marijuana’s 5,000-year-old medicinal history in a presentation titled, “Facts vs. Fiction Surrounding Medical Marijuana: Translating the Clinical Reintegration of a Botanical Medicine.” Block argued that the cannabis plant (commonly referred to as marijuana) contains a therapeutic balance of phytocannabinoid and terpenoid compounds that can provide substantial relief to individuals suffering from chronic pain and certain debilitating diseases, such as cancer. Block is a longtime medical marijuana advocate. He was previously appointed to structure the framework and author the introductory chapter for physician education of Florida’s Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, which permitted the limited use of a low-THC strain of marijuana for patients suffering from epilepsy, cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In July, Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation to implement the medical marijuana amendment into law. Individuals with terminal diseases and those with chronic conditions, including epilepsy, cancer, HIV and AIDS, glaucoma and multiple sclerosis, can legally ingest marijuana products with a physician’s prescription.
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