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First Cannabis Clinic to open in Lake City

Staff Reports

The first of its kind in the North Florida area since 1937, a doctor’s clinic that recommends marijuana to its patients is opening in Lake City, called Canna Clinic.

Business owner Kyle Green said although acquiring the necessary permits and licensing, which is heavily regulated, was an uphill struggle, everything is in place. He, along with Doctor Aleem Malik, the attending physician, are excited to have the opportunity to offer this service to North Florida residents that suffer from debilitating illnesses and qualify under the list of conditions in Amendment 2.

Although the clinic may recommend cannabis to its patients for qualifying illnesses that are strictly regulated, there are no medications of any kind on the premises, especially marijuana. Green said,
“Many people think we are a dispensary, but we are not allowed to have (or sell) any medications. A clinic cannot be associated with a dispensary.” He explained the word “recommendation” must be used instead of the word “prescribe.” Even though medical marijuana may be used legally in the state of Florida now, with the proper certification, it is still illegal to the federal government. “So a doctor is not allowed to prescribe but can recommend,” Green said.

Although earlier this year, state legislators came together and implemented the rules, which were passed and signed by Governor Scott, that made qualifying easier, it is still a lengthy process. “You’re looking at 4 to 6 weeks,” Green said. Patients must first bring in their past medical records for Malik to look over. “The doctor doesn’t do any diagnosing. He looks at their past medical records and based on their prior diagnoses from their primary care physicians, if the patient has been formally diagnosed with one of the qualifying conditions listed under Amendment 2, he will make his recommendation based on that.”

The dispensaries where patients go to purchase the drug must present the card and be found in their system before purchasing is allowed. “Everything is strictly monitored and regulated,” he added. The closest dispensaries are in Gainesville, according to Green.

The opening of the clinic was planned for earlier this week but was postponed due to widespread power outages and flooding from Hurricane Irma. They will officially open Tuesday, September 19. Canna Clinic is located at 260 S. Marion Ave. Suite 135, next to Suwannee Valley 4 C’s and directly across from the Greyhound Bus Station on Marion Street in Lake City, in the back of the small complex. Their hours of operation are Tuesday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and every other Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and may be reached at 386-466-2867. Green said they also have office space available for sublease.

A Brief History – In 1937, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Congress passed and implemented the Marijuana Tax Act. The Act imposed a tax that equaled approximately a half day’s wages at the time, which made it too expensive to continue its use. The American Medical Association was against the Act and argued in support of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, which was widely prescribed prior to 1937 and listed in many medical journals for the treatment of illnesses too numerous to mention in this article. This Marijuana Tax Act marked the beginning of the illegal use of marijuana that was to come through the years with penalties of up to life in prison. Readers be aware, marijuana/cannabis is still an illegal substance without the proper certification. Its benefits and uses are a highly debated and controversial subject.

Canna Clinic is located at 260 S. Marion Ave. Suite 135, next to Suwannee Valley 4 C’s and directly across from the Greyhound Bus Station on Marion Street in Lake City. -Photo: Staff