Loading
Donate

Florida: Comments on Proposed Medical Marijuana Rules Due 2/10 at 5pm

Floridians overwhelmingly voted on Election Day in favor of Amendment 2 to regulate the production and dispensing of medical cannabis to any patient who is diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition by their doctor.

However, newly proposed rules by the Department of Health seek to significantly amend this legislation in a manner that is contrary to patients’ needs.

Specifically, the rules would limit those patients who may qualify for cannabis therapy only to those diagnosed with one of ten specific conditions: cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis. Inexplicably, this pool of conditions does not include chronic pain — the condition for which cannabis has shown definitive clinical efficacy. As approved by voters, the Amendment provides physicians to discretion to recommend medical marijuana in any instance where they believe that its medical use “would likely outweigh the potential health risks.”

Further, the proposed rules seek to limit cannabis production and dispensing solely to those seven nurseries previously selected to provide high-CBD varieties of cannabis as part of an extremely limited 2014 program. To date, this program has been insufficient at providing patients’ with adequate access to the plant. It is highly unlikely that these limited numbers of producers and dispensers could meet the needs of Florida’s growing pool of patients.

Please consider attending one of these events to tell regulators that these changes are not in the best interest of Florida patients.

Medical marijuana public hearings:

Jacksonville: 2-4 p.m. Feb. 6 at the Duval County Health Department, 900 University Blvd. North.
Fort Lauderdale: 10 a.m.-noon Feb. 7 at the Broward County Health Department, 780 SW 24th St.
Tampa: 9-11 a.m. Feb. 8 at the DOH Tampa Branch Laboratory, 3602 Sepctrum Blvd. 
Orlando: 6-8 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Orange County Health Department, 6102 Lake Ellenor Drive. 
Tallahassee: 4-6 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Room 148.

Those who can not attend in person, may also leave feedback with the Department of Health here. Let them know that these proposed changes unduly limiting the pool of eligible patients and their access to medical cannabis is contrary to the will of the 71 percent of voters who approved Amendment 2, and that they are not in the best interest of those seriously ill Floridians who may benefit from medical cannabis.

Further, please make clear that any proposed changes to limit or prohibit patients access to whole-plant cannabis in lieu of extracts or pills is unacceptable. Non-herbal forms of cannabis possess delayed onset and their effects can often be far less predictable than herbal cannabis. Such restrictions unnecessarily limit patients’ choices and deny them the ability to obtain rapid relief from whole-plant cannabis in a manner that has long proven to be relatively safe and effective.

Finally, make it clear that physicians’ authorizations should not be limited to less than one-year in duration. Patients suffering from chronic conditions should not be required to make multiple visits, and make multiple payments, to their physician simply to affirm that cannabis therapy is of benefit to them.

Please feel free to use the pre-written letter below to send your public comments to the Florida Department of Health.

Sample Letter

Do Not Limit Patients’ Medical Marijuana Access

Floridians overwhelmingly voted on Election Day in favor of Amendment 2 to regulate the production and dispensing of medical cannabis to any patient who is diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition by their doctor.

However, newly proposed rules by the Department of Health seek to significantly amend this legislation in a manner that is contrary to patients’ needs. 

Specifically, the rules would limit those patients who may qualify for cannabis therapy only to those diagnosed with one of ten specific conditions. As approved by voters, the Amendment provides physicians the discretion to recommend medical marijuana in any instance where they believe that its medical use “would likely outweigh the potential health risks.” 

Further, the proposed rules seek to limit cannabis production and dispensing solely to those seven nurseries previously selected to provide high-CBD varieties of cannabis as part of an extremely limited 2014 program. To date, this program has been insufficient at providing patients’ with adequate access to the plant. It is highly unlikely that these limited numbers of producers and dispensers could meet the needs of Florida’s growing pool of patients.

These proposed changes unduly limiting the pool of eligible patients and their access to medical cannabis is contrary to the will of the 71 percent of voters who approved Amendment 2, and they are not in the best interest of those seriously ill Floridians who may benefit from medical cannabis. 

Further, any proposed changes to limit or prohibit patients access to whole-plant cannabis in lieu of extracts or pills is unacceptable. Non-herbal forms of cannabis possess delayed onset and their effects can often be far less predictable than herbal cannabis. Many patients seeking rapid relief of symptoms will not benefit from pills, tinctures, or edibles. Such restrictions unnecessarily limit patients’ choices and deny them the ability to obtain rapid relief from whole-plant cannabis in a manner that has long proven to be relatively safe and effective.

Finally, physicians’ authorizations should not be limited to less than one-year in duration. Patients suffering from chronic conditions should not be required to make multiple visits, and make multiple payments, to their physician simply to affirm that cannabis therapy is of benefit to them.

I urge you to please consider these points when finalizing the guidelines for this important program.

Thank You,

[Your Name] 

Click here to submit a comment

 

From NORML of Florida Director Karen Goldstein:

"The voters of Florida were presented with language of which more than 71% approved. Nowhere in the wording of Amendment 2 does it require a doctor to become specially certified to recommend cannabis. It clearly states that "Physician" "means a person who is licensed to practice medicine in Florida." When a pharmaceutical representative brings samples of new medications to doctors' offices, the physician is not required to take a special certification course to prescribe that medication. Many of those meds are far more dangerous than cannabis.  

(b)(4) defines marijuana as that given to cannabis in Section 893.02(3), Florida Statutes (2014) which states “Cannabis” means all parts of any plant of the genus Cannabis, whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant or its seeds or resin." Therefore medical marijuana includes the whole plant, not restricted to extracts or oils. 

In the wording of the amendment, (d) Duties of the Department, (1), b clearly states that renewal cards will be annual, not every 45 days as has been mentioned in the preliminary rules published today.  

We the people of the state of Florida have approved an amendment to our State Constitution and we expect that amendment to be implemented in the spirit that was intended by its authors."   

Join NORML of Florida on Facebook and visit their website at http://www.normlfl.org/