AHF Mum On Florida’s Marijuana Regulations

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Photo by John McDonald

The largest global AIDS service organization is taking a neutral position on medical marijuana in Florida.

W. Imara Canady, Regional Director of Communications and Community Engagement for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Southern Bureau, said the organization is not taking a public stance on the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

“We respectfully leave that conversation between the doctor and the patient,” Canady told SFGN in a telephone call Tuesday morning. “AHF is always focused on the well-being of our patients and providing the best quality care.”

Related: Righteous Rebels Tells AHF's Story 

AHF has clinics in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, providing prevention, testing and healthcare options to people living with HIV. In some cases, marijuana has been prescribed to alleviate side effects of HIV medications.

Jack Doren, a resident of Oakland Park, said only marijuana was able to settle his stomach.

“I tried every medication I could try to alleviate the nausea,” Doren told the Oakland Park Commission during a public hearing last week. “Nothing worked – prescription or over the counter. I remember telling my physician that I’d choose death rather than continue suffering from this. Then I tried marijuana. I found that one inhaling took away 95 percent of the nausea, within seconds. I’m not exaggerating. So I personally know how effective this medicine can be.”

Related: Oakland Park Places Moratorium On Medical Marijuana 

The Florida Department of Health has until June to put regulations in place to allow for qualified patients to access marijuana for medicinal purposes. Many cities, like Oakland Park, have placed a moratorium on applications pending state guidelines.

And then there’s the matter of federal law, which declares marijuana illegal. Previously, the Obama administration declined to go after dispensaries in Colorado and California, but there is no such guarantee from the new Trump administration.

For that reason, AHF is staying on the sidelines of this debate.

“We always follow in alignment of federal law,” Canady said. “Our legislative team in Florida is watching this issue closely and looking to see how it plays out.”

Current Florida rules call for a patient to be in the care of their doctor for at least three months in order to receive a medical marijuana prescription.