SARASOTA (FOX 13) - Dr. Barry Gordon is prepared for a very busy week at his practice. On Tuesday, his doors will open for patients who want to qualify for medical marijuana.
After working as an ER doctor in Ohio for 32 years, Gordon retired to Venice. He opened Physicians Advanced Laser Center, removing tattoos and operating as a telemedicine doctor.
When he saw the push for medical marijuana in Florida, he believed he could help.
"I felt that this was my one last big battle that I could do," he said. "One of the reasons why I feel so comfortable undertaking this new career is I've really seen drug abuse from all the different angles and that's not what cannabis is about."
Gordon became qualified under the state of Florida and will operate the Compassionate Cannabis Clinic of Venice. For the first day, he'll see 18 patients. For the rest of the month, he'll see nearly 300.
"We are seeing one patient every half hour or two per an hour. That gives me a good amount of time to spend time with the patient. We don't want to rush people through," he explained.
The initial visit will cost patients $250. Under Florida law, patients must be established within the practice for 90 days. They will need checkup visits every 45 days. It'll cost patients nearly $500 for a yearly medical plan.
Dr. Gordon will only offer a referral for medical cannabis for those who qualify. He will not operate as a distributor.
"I think anybody that wants to recreationally use cannabis right now, in order to get a bogus recommendation from me, it's much more difficult to come in. You should see the stack of papers they need to sign," he said.
In Florida this is uncharted territory. Dr. Gordon remains adamant his practice will focus on patient care, education and advocacy.
"The patients that are reaching out to me tend to be legitimate that have chronic and debilitating disease," he added.