By Vanessa Orr

Since Florida legalized medical cannabis in 2016, the industry has grown tremendously. And while there are now many options for patients, physicians, health professionals and more, it’s sometimes difficult to find the appropriate answers in a sea of information.

That’s where the Florida Medical Cannabis Conference (FMCC) comes in. Now in its fourth year, the event attracts people from all walks of life and all professions to learn more about products, treatments and solutions. The event will be held Feb. 22-24 at the Orlando Marriott World Space Center.

“It’s a great industry, but it’s confusing to many,” said Jill Giles, who founded FMCC with Dawn Yarnell, who understands the benefits of medical cannabis first-hand. “Our goal is to help educate those who are curious, and to help those who may be afraid to talk directly to their doctors; we also want to provide continuing education to health professionals and physicians who want to learn more about medical marijuana.”

Giles and Yarnell are strong proponents of medical cannabis; Yarnell was diagnosed with systemic lupus 15 years ago and was given a bleak prognosis. Giles ‘pushed’ her into trying medical cannabis with positive results.

“She dragged me into it kicking and screaming, but now I’m off eight of my nine medicines, and I’ve been seizure free for almost two years,” said Yarnell. “I’ve gone from being hospitalized every three months to a quality of life I’ve not had for 15 years.”

The women have chosen to give back by educating the public about the product’s benefits. To this end, the conference hosts speakers who not only share their stories, but provide information that may be new to the audience.

“It’s a large industry, but it’s close-knit, so these types of events tend to bring in the same presenters,” said Giles. “We try to find companies and speakers who are not typically at cannabis expos; that’s what makes us unique.”

Every medical marijuana-related subject is covered at the expo, from pain management, to dosing and case studies, to PTSD, to pediatrics and end-of-life care. “Attendees can earn CMEs and CEUs, which is important for those nurses and other clinicians who want to learn more about medical marijuana,” said Giles, adding that because patients don’t need a physicians’ referral, nurses can also educate them about the product’s benefits.

“There will be three congruent sessions going on at the same time, so there’s something for everyone, whether their interest lies in business and regulations, growing and licensing, medical issues or marketing,” she added.

Attendees can purchase all-access tickets for all three days of the show, and there are also special $15 tickets for members of the public who want to attend Patient Day, Friday, Feb. 22, to hear presentations by two physicians, a retired judge and a dispensary owner from 2-6 p.m., as well as attend a Veterans’ Panel. The Exhibit Hall will also be open during that time for people to visit with dispensaries and learn about new products.

For those curious about what’s happening on the political front, U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz, Speaker of the House and Incoming Speaker State Rep. Bob Rommel and Gov. Ron DeSantis will present a legislative panel on Saturday, Feb. 23. A VIP dinner will take place on Saturday from 6 to 8 p.m. with the governor and his team; dinner will require a separate ticket.

To learn more about the Florida Medical Cannabis Conference or to register, visit Special savings are also being offered on rooms at the Orlando Marriott World Space Center for FMCC participants.