Medical marijuana patients have praise for pot

The state now has 81 medical marijuana dispensaries, including two in Lakeland and one in Winter Haven. There are about 1,950 qualified patients living in Polk County.

LAKELAND — For about three decades, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder largely controlled Betty Patterson’s life.

The Lakeland resident endured a traumatic event at age 20 but didn’t receive a diagnosis of PTSD for more than three decades. As she struggled with crippling anxiety, Patterson discovered that smoking marijuana eased her distress and allowed her to feel calm.

But marijuana was illegal, and Patterson was forced to venture into unsafe places and deal with sketchy people to obtain the product that helped her cope.

“It’s seedy and it’s scary,” said Patterson, 53. “You can get robbed. I never was robbed, but I’m sure I could have been. You have to go to the seedy side to get it if it’s not legally available to you.”

By the time a

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