But beginning Monday, a few South Floridians will be able to use a strain of low-THC cannabis oil called Haleigh's Hope. The oil contains high quantities of cannabidiol, also known as CBD, which calms epilepsy patients. However, it does not contain marijuana's psychoactive chemicals.
Modern Health Concepts in Miami-Dade will begin offering the medicine to patients this Monday. Patients must be enrolled in Florida's Compassionate Use Registry, a state Department of Health program started in 2014 that allows certain medical patients to receive low-THC cannabis.
Modern Health Concepts is run by South Miami-Dade's Costa Farms, one of the five companies the state authorized to begin growing medical marijuana in November 2015. Costa is a behemoth of a company and has been in business for three generations — the Sun Sentinel's editorial board castigated Costa last year for pushing the state to give medical-marijuana licenses only to such large companies.
Monday will mark a major step forward. Modern Health Concepts is the only company in the state licensed to dispense Haleigh's Hope oil. It doesn't get you high — instead, the CBD in the oil helps treat epilepsy, seizure disorders, and muscle spasticity.
The oil is named for Haleigh Cox, a child in Georgia who was having more than 100 seizures a day before discovering that low-THC cannabis oil stopped them.
"She'd quit breathing several times a day, and the doctors blamed it on the seizure medications," Cox's mother told CNN last year. The Coxes first chose to move to Colorado to obtain legal weed. They began giving Haleigh cannabis oil five times a day.
The Coxes then became ardent medical marijuana advocates and successfully persuaded the Georgia Legislature to legalize low-THC cannabis oil in 2015.
Despite the fact that Florida passed its own "compassionate use" bill in 2014, it took more than a year of fighting before the state let anyone legally grow marijuana and use the bill. Now, with that process finally in the past, Modern Health Concepts will begin taking appointments to deliver Haleigh's Hope oil to registered patients' homes this Monday. The company says it plans to open more dispensaries soon. In the meantime, it will also sell Haleigh's Hope oil at its main location in South Miami-Dade.
Update: Dr. Carlos Smith, Modern Health's medical director, tells New Times that, while it's unclear how much demand there is for the oil in South Florida so far, he expects more patients to inquire about it as time goes on.
"I can be ordered for terminal patients, too," he says. "I would say that the strongest evidence out there for CBD in terms of clinical evidence is for seizures, and certain types of seizure disorders
He said that once a doctor recommends CBD oil for a patient — and when that patient is placed on the state's compassionate use registry — Floridians can make an appointment with Modern Health Concepts starting Monday. Smith says that Modern Health can deliver the oil to any patients in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, and Monroe counties.