By Corey G. Johnson

Debbie Knight had battled painful arthritis for years and hoped medical marijuana could provide some relief.

So one day in February, the 57-year-old Elvis and Cher impersonator scoured the internet, looking for the best doctor who could grant her access to Florida’s new program.

Fort Lauderdale 420 Marijuana Doctors was the closest and the cheapest. The office was in a safe part of town. And it reassured her that the business appeared to be a legitimate franchise, with sister offices in Miami and Jacksonville.

“I figured it’s like a little McDonald’s cannabis chain,” Knight said.

Then she walked into the office in Plantation.

It smelled like dirty, sweaty shoes. Crumpled fast-food bags dotted the doctor’s exam room. Papers and other junk piled up on the desk.

A young assistant asked her to pay $200, instead of the $80 that Knight saw online.

“Right there, I was ready to walk out the door, and I should have,” Knight said.

Dr. Khaja Chisty called Knight into his office for her exam, which Knight said consisted of a few questions. As she left, Chisty said her name would be entered into the state’s registry of patients allowed to buy marijuana by the following day, Knight said. Instead, weeks passed without her being added to the system.

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