Pot doc opens clinic to clear patients for medical marijuana

Colleen Jones

Robert Elkins was a longtime orthopedic physician looking for a way to remain in health care, just at a slower pace and more on his own terms. So, after doing some research, the 77-year-old Elkins decided to dip his toe into the emerging field of medical marijuana.

The state of Florida approved the use of cannabis for certain medical conditions in 2016 and expanded those parameters in 2017. This has paved the way for many entrepreneurial ventures, from cultivating the product, to selling it and — in Elkin’s case — qualifying people to be added to the state registry of legal consumers.

Elkins and his domestic partner, Roberta Kaye, who both live in St. Augustine, opened the Cannabis Certification Clinic on April 1. The clinic’s offices are on the third floor of the Whetstone Building surrounded by other medical providers. And indeed, the offices look like, well, any other doctors’. There are a few art photographs of pot plants and buds on the walls, but there is no tie-dyed tapestry, no Rastafarian reggae music piping through the speakers.

Before he’ll examine them, Ekins (only half-kiddingly) tells potential patients he doesn’t give out free samples.

The second is that if they’ve come looking for a free pass to get high, they’ll have better luck on the street. Though he will recommend some clients for a supply of cannabis that does contain the euphoria-producing chemical, THC, it is almost always mixed with CBD, the plant’s non-high compound.

“It’s not like we’re talking about someone falling down the steps stoned; it’s about relaxing,” Elkins said.

To see Elkins, a patient has to first prove they have a qualifying condition under Florida state law. Some of these include: glaucoma, epilepsy, PTSD, cancer and