PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR) — Florida is now one of nearly three-dozen states with legal medical marijuana.
In March, Governor Ron DeSantis expanded that to include the smokable, flower form.
We talked to one patient, Heather Allman, who said medical marijuana allowed her to start living again.
Before that she felt like she was only existing.
In 2010, Allman was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She was confined to her bed and wheelchair, taking 50 pills a day.
"I literally for the last nine years felt lost for a while on all those medications - 50 drugs a day. I spent a couple years after I was diagnosed just completely in a daze," she said.
Today, she can now walk, only takes five medications a day and has gotten off opioids.
She said medical marijuana has been the difference.
"When I started using medical cannabis I just noticed this falling off of medications to where I was like I did not take that today and my hand is not shaking so my tremors have completely disappeared," said Allman.
She is one of more than 215,000 qualified medical marijuana patients in the state, according to the Florida Department of Health.
In 2016, medical marijuana was legalized in Florida.
Doctor Michelle Beasley has been treating patients since then. She said until recently, the routes patients could get cannabis were limited.
"What has been legal in Florida is oils," said Dr. Beasley. "So, whether it’s an oil for oral consumption, oil for vaporization consumption or topical use - patches or lotions."
Dr. Beasley said when patients smoke flower they get cannabis in its purest form with all its chemicals.
"All those chemicals are there in the plant form whereas when you make the oil, when you distill it into the oil form, you lose some of those chemicals to evaporation," she said.
She also said the flower form is more affordable than oil.
"You’re looking at least two to three times the expense and you know if someone’s having to pay out of pocket. To me it’s not that my patients are really eager to smoke. It’s that they’re eager for something that makes the medicine affordable."
Medical marijuana can legally treat a list of conditions and diseases including cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, or multiple sclerosis.
Allman said she had to pay about $800 out of pocket for her medications each month.
Now she spends about $200 each month on medical cannabis, saving her money and improving her quality of life.
"When you’re on that many medications a day, you’re living a life of existence. You’re just hoping this medication isn’t going to cause a side effect you didn’t expect," said Allman.
Qualified patients are allowed to carry up to four ounces of cannabis.
However, they aren’t allowed to smoke in public.