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Medical Marijuana Treatment Availability in Florida Communities with Higher Proportions of Older Adults

Amie Goodin
University of Florida

Co-authors: Michael Maguire1, Joshua Brown1
1University of Florida

Objective: Medical marijuana must be dispensed via licensed Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs) and treatment authorization must originate from authorized physicians in Florida. Recent studies have demonstrated that a significant proportion of medical marijuana users are older adults. The purpose of this study was to compare concentration of medical marijuana availability (MMTCs and physicians) with proportion of older adults in Florida counties.

Methods: Two measures of medical marijuana treatment availability were defined for all counties: MMTCs/100,000 older residents and authorized physicians/100,000 older residents. Treatment locations from 2020 were downloaded from Florida Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU) public database. Census Bureau data for the year 2020 was used to calculate the proportion of residents age ≥65 years in each county. Counties comprised of >33% older adults were classified as having a large aging population. Of those with large aging populations, treatment availability measures were calculated as a ratio of physicians or MMTCs per 100,000 older residents. Pearson correlations were calculated for treatment availability measures and proportion of older residents, then measures were mapped using Tableau software.

Results: There were a total of 2,234 authorized physicians and 239 MMTCs in 2020. On average, older adults comprise 23% of the population in Florida counties, with 6 out of 67 counties comprised of a large aging population (>33% older adults). Florida counties had 31 authorized physicians/100k older residents [range: 0 to 102], but correlation was not significant (Pearson R=-0.11; p-value=0.38). The highest concentrations of authorized physicians were in Sarasota (45 per 100k) and Indian River (39 per 100k) counties. Florida counties had 4 MMTCs/100k older residents [range: 0 to 25], but correlation was not significant (Pearson R=-0.16; p-value=0.19). The highest concentrations of MMTCs among aging populations were Sarasota (6 per 100k) and Charlotte (4 per 100k) counties.

Conclusion: Medical marijuana treatment availability, as estimated by MMTC and authorized physician concentration, is widely available in areas with large aging populations in Florida. Risk and benefits of medical marijuana treatment, especially related to potential interactions between marijuana and prescription medications, should be tailored for this population to prevent adverse events.

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