Healing or hustle? Medical marijuana clinics come to South Florida – Miami Herald
Maybe you’ve seen them on Lincoln Road and Biscayne Boulevard, or did a double-take the first time you drove past one on Old Dixie Highway.
With names like 420 Miami Doctor and Doc MJ, clinics that specialize in medical marijuana diagnoses are opening in strip malls and office buildings across South Florida. More than a half-dozen chains — including one where patients can also receive an INS physical — have popped up from Kendall to Pompano Beach.
Arriving as Florida’s health department and board of medicine continue to work out the ground rules of the industry, cannabis clinics are filling a void in an unsettled market. They come touting doctors and staff who specialize in a convoluted field at a time when thousands are trying to find out if they qualify.
But in a region that only a few years ago was the pill mill capital of the world, the optics aren’t great. Already there are stories about predatory offices and clinics that act more like certification factories than medical practitioners, leading the doctors and clinic owners themselves to urge patients to research the options before they visit.
There have been a lot of nefarious practices that have popped up. We call them parasites.
Pat DeLuca, executive director of Compassionate Cannabis Clinic
“There are good actors and bad actors. Unfortunately, with the recent forward progress [of medical marijuana] in the state, there have been a lot of nefarious practices that have popped up. We call them parasites,” said Pat DeLuca, executive director of Compassionate Cannabis Clinic near Sarasota. “And there are people operating within the space that don’t deserve to be.”
Since Florida first authorized an extremely limited medical marijuana system in 2014, more than 30,000 patients have seen doctors from an array of fields in order to