An overwhelming 71.3 percent of the vote in Florida passed the medical cannabis Amendment 2 bill which would allow physicians the discretion to recommend medical marijuana in any instance where they believe that its medical use “would likely outweigh the potential health risks” for their patients.
However, the new rules the Florida Department of Health (DOH) seek to change would not permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to patients with chronic pain, and also would limit patients to one of only ten limited qualifying conditions.
The new DOH draft rules also seek to significantly minimize the number of licensed medical cannabis cultivators and providers, and are also considering limiting patients from legally accessing herbal forms of the product, instead requiring those in the program to consume cannabis-infused liquids or extracts.
So in other words, the whole plant in its natural form would be prohibited from sale.
“We know the legislature is really on board. They take notice of a 71.3 percentage vote by the population and they have assured us they are listening to the voters,” attorney Gerry Greenspoon said.
The first line on the medical cannabis information page is in direct contradiction to Amendment 2 when it says patients must have a 3-month relationship with their recommending doctor.
Also in conflict with the amendment’s intent is that physicians have to go through required training, an 8-hour class.
“When a doctor’s in his office and a salesman comes in with the little cart with new medications, the doctor doesn’t have to take a course on new medication,” said Karen Goldstein, executive director of NORML.
NORML, an organization fighting to sway public opinion about marijuana use, takes exception with language that would limit the growing, manufacturing and dispensing to just six licensees. They say it creates a monopoly on what should be a free and open market, and it’s logistically impossible.
“The number of patients will exceed what these six growers can provide and it’s not in the intent of the amendment,” Goldstein said.
In the coming weeks, regulators will be holding a number of public forums throughout the state to seek feedback to these proposed rules. Please seriously consider attending one of these events to tell regulators that these changes are not in the best interest of Florida patients.
Attend a Medical marijuana Public Hearing; grab your friends, your family, a stranger, or anyone else to come and support your efforts:
- JACKSONVILLE: February 6, 2017, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Duval County Health Department
900 University Blvd. North
Jacksonville, FL 32211
- FORT LAUDERDALE: February 7, 2017, 10:00 a.m. – noon
Broward County Health Department
780 SW 24th Street
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33315
- TAMPA: February 8, 2017, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Florida Department of Health, Tampa Branch Laboratory
3602 Spectrum Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33612
- ORLANDO: February 8, 2017, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Orange County Health Department
6102 Lake Ellenor Drive
Orlando, FL 32809
- TALLAHASSEE: February 9, 2017, 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Betty Easley Conference Center
4075 Esplanade Way, Room 148
Tallahassee, Florida 32399
Equally as important, the DOH launched a public input portal so you – the people of Florida – may share your thoughts about how you’d like to see medical marijuana administered.
One item of particular patient concern from the proposed rules follows:
(e) “Qualifying debilitating medical condition” shall mean conditions eligible for physician ordering contained in s. 381.986(2), F.S., or cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis. Also, any debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated, as determined by the Florida Board of Medicine.
You read that correctly. The state is suggesting it would like to restrict one of the most important aspects of the law to specific determinations made by the Board of Medicine.
This is clearly not within the intent of the authors of the Constitutional Amendment:
“Qualifying Debilitating Medical Conditions includes the listed specific debilitating conditions, but also includes any comparable debilitating conditions for which the physician believes the potential benefit outweighs the known risk. An individual physician makes the determination if a condition is comparable to those listed in the text of the amendment. Individuals without a debilitating condition would not qualify to receive medical marijuana under this Amendment.”
Physicians, not politicians, should be determining who has a debilitating condition for which cannabis can better the quality of life of their patients.
As you know, we strongly believe in patient care, education, and advocacy. Now is time for all three! Here’s what you can do to get involved and help this mission:
Join Our Florida Cannabis Warriors Facebook Group
- We created a Facebook group for people interested in discussing medical cannabis access in Florida. Right now we are discussing the upcoming Board of Health hearings. If you would like to join this group, please visit the Facebook page to join.
Leave Your Comments with the State
- Those who cannot attend in person, we highly encourage you to leave feedback with the Department of Health at the link below, and let them know the proposed changes unduly limiting the pool of eligible patients and their access to medical cannabis and these proposed new rules are not in the best interest of seriously ill Floridians who may benefit from medical cannabis.Go to the Office of Compassionate Use (OCU) Public Comment Form and tell the state:
- To allow qualified physicians make final eligibility decisions.
- To ensure licensing of patients be easy, quick, and inexpensive.
- To allow for available access to the medication. Medical Cannabis Treatment Centers (MCTC), cultivators, processors, and dispensaries must have an efficient licensing system. Taxes on the medication should not exceed Colorado’s standard of 10%. Flower (bud and vegetation) should be able to be sold as it is the most inexpensive form. Edibles should be allowed with proper child safe packaging such as pill bottles or blister packs. Limitations shouldn’t be placed on access – dispensaries should be able to provide for home delivery of medication, cities should allow for dispensaries to open in their communities.
Share The Information
- The more people know about this issue, the better chance we have to ensure that the will of the people of Florida will be met. So please, share this article with your friends and family on social media and in person.
Know What’s Going On In Your Area
- Keep an eye out for developments in medical marijuana both in Florida and elsewhere. news.google.com is a great resource.
The More You Know, More People You Can Help
- Educate yourself and others on the benefits of cannabis and its derivatives in relation to chronic conditions.
If you are able to attend a hearing, please do. Empty public meetings usually result in ridiculous regulation. 71.3% of Florida voters said “Yes” to Amendment 2, and the government needs to realize there is a very real public mandate to allow for people suffering to receive access to medication that may actually work to ease their pain and suffering.
Now is the time to let our voices be heard. Please join our fight for medical cannabis patient rights in Florida!
Read more about Steven Peters.