December 5, 2018

Theresa Java/Free Press
David Chandler greets Janet Roberts at his newly opened Miracle Leaf Health Center, a medical marijuana clinic in Key Largo, that offers ID cards to patients with qualifying health conditions.

Theresa Java/Free Press David Chandler greets Janet Roberts at his newly opened Miracle Leaf Health Center, a medical marijuana clinic in Key Largo, that offers ID cards to patients with qualifying health conditions.

KEY LARGO — A new medical marijuana prescribing clinic, Miracle Leaf Health Center, 100650 Overseas Highway, is one of 16 franchised locations quickly springing up across Florida.

A grand opening event slated for Saturday, Dec. 8, will coincide with five other openings the same day.

David Chandler, who opened the Key Largo franchise with wife Cindy, told the Florida Keys Free Press last week that Tommy Louisville, the Miracle Leaf Health Centers physician who was charged last month with improperly issuing medical marijuana cards in Pembroke Pines in August, is no longer affiliated with the business and that all physical examinations are performed in person.

A spokeswoman with Miracle Leaf Corp., the Miami-based franchising corporation, also said Louisville is no longer associated with the company.

The Florida Department of Health has restricted Louisville from prescribing medical marijuana after he was criminally charged with issuing medical marijuana cards through video conferencing to two undercover detectives who had no medical need.

“In or about June 2018, the Pembroke Pines Police Department initiated an investigation into possible illegal activity at Miracle Leaf, a business advertising itself as a ‘medical marijuana clinic’ located at 1341 Palm Avenue, Pembroke Pines. … Dr. Louisville is the sole managing partner of Miracle Leaf Health Centers, LLC, according to filings with the Florida Division of Corporations,” the DOH report states.

The medical marijuana business is buzzing throughout the state despite such missteps.

“This is a vastly growing market that my wife and I want to be at the forefront of,” Chandler said of opening shop in the Keys.

From mid-October to mid-November, the number of qualified ordering physicians in Florida rose from 1,787 to 1,865, while the number of qualified patients increased from 137,470 from 151,344, according to the state’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use.

In Key Largo, Medical Leaf is now accepting applications from patients to be seen by a qualified physician as the first step in obtaining a medical marijuana ID card for relief from such debilitating conditions as cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS and more.

The normal application fee is $300, but Miracle Leaf is offering a limited-time $200 fee during its grand opening event. Military veterans receive half off.

One of the Miracle Leaf Health Centers’ physicians submits a qualified patient’s information to the Florida Department of Health, which then emails the patient to verify Florida residency and to collect a $75 fee. Once the fee is collected by the state, a photo ID card is issued and the patient can then order medical grade marijuana from a licensed dispensary.

Chandler said he believes in the restorative properties of medical marijuana. The new clinic will strive to provide appointments with ordering physicians on the same day, if possible. It also carries an extensive line of CBD oil products with the maximum amount of THC, marijuana’s mind-altering compound, allowed at less than 1 percent.

Miracle Leaf had a soft opening last week and, within the first three days, accumulated eight applicants for medical marijuana cards.

Janet Roberts was one of the applicants.

“This could be huge for me,” she said. “This is going to help me with some of my health issues. I’m hoping that with a card, I won’t have to take anymore medicine.”

Miracle Leaf Health Centers have nine qualified ordering physicians on staff. The Chandlers don’t know yet which physician will primarily staff the Key Largo office but anticipate he or she will be introduced at the grand opening.

Doctors must perform a physical examination while present in the same room as the patient, assess the patient’s medical history, diagnose the patient with a qualifying condition and determine the medical use of marijuana likely outweighs health risks, according to the state.

“If the doctor doesn’t deem your condition as medically qualifying, then we will reimburse your money,” Chandler said.

For patients under age 18, a second physician must agree in writing that the medical use of marijuana likely outweighs the health risks.

The Miracle Leaf office is not a dispensary. Medical marijuana will be delivered in person to the qualified patient or caregiver by Truelieve, which operates more than 20 of Florida’s 73 licensed dispensary facilities.

For more information, visit miracleleaffl.com or call 305-510-4220.

For more information on qualifying medical conditions, dispensaries or ordering physicians, visit floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/office-of-medical-marijuana-us.

tjava@keysnews.com