9 Investigates

How Florida's 55 and older communities are leading the state's medical marijuana movement

SUMTER COUNTY, Fla. — Medical marijuana use is growing in Florida with more than 150,000 of Floridians now certified to receive the drug.

In the two years since voters approved it, one group in Central Florida is really embracing the change.

Sumter County's growing population of people over the age of 65 is leading the movement.

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Robert Platshorn has been advocating the benefits of marijuana for more than three decades.
A senior himself, Platshorn's watched as the ranks have swelled in the last two years.

"They can get off many of their expensive meds and that is very appealing to seniors," Platshorn said.

Some may wonder, just how popular is medical marijuana in Sumter County?

Consider this, the median age in Sumter County is 67.6. Only Walton County in the panhandle has a higher percentage of medical marijuana patients.

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In fact, three of the top four counties in the state for medical marijuana have median populations age 53 and older.

"We're starting to see people looking for alternatives to the traditional pharmaceuticals," said Dr. Henry Kirsch.

Kirsch works at the Villages Medical Marijuana Treatment Clinic. He sees between 20 and 30 patients a day. A quarter are new patients.

"What kind of ailments are most common coming in the door? Most common is going to be degenerative joint diseases, herniated discs processes of aging, osteoporosis," Kirsch said.

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All aliments that the state recognizes for medical marijuana.

"The senior generation is my generation, we kind of invented marijuana the way it is known today," Platshorn said.