One Big Pot Hole

The New Law

Florida missed key issues by passing CS/CS/SB1030. Take, for example, the new law. It has the following features.

When prescribed by a doctor or osteopath for patients with certain medical conditions, “low-THC marijuana” is legal. What conditions are these? Cancer, seizures, severe or persistent muscle spasms. It’s easy to see why. This is where the Florida Legislature made a decision to divert from the track.

If the doctor determines that there are no risks to ordering the pot, the patient is qualified to receive the treatment. How can a doctor determine if a patient is a permanent residence? Is there any protection to make that determination in good faith? Nope. How does a doctor determine reasonableness? Is marijuana use included in the curriculum of online dispensary canada a medical school? No. 

Surprisingly, both the Florida Medical Association (FMA) and the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association (FOMA) have the responsibility to teach prescribing doctors via an eight-hour education course. The Legislature made this decision and explained why (beyond collecting no dues revenue). It is amazing. It is not clear how this training will affect the everyday medical practice of physicians who have taken such courses. Can an orthopedist do it? Sure. But what about a pathologist, you ask? You bet. A dermatologist? It’s possible. This is why a practicing physician would choose to go this direction. This is the “highest use” of an extremely skilled cardiologist, family physician, or anesthesiologist. It takes only eight hours to assess a patient suffering from cancer or severe seizures and determine if medical marijuana might be beneficial. It required training in neurology, internal medicine and… cancer. Is this a law that is medically and clinically driven to help those in need, or one that simply ensures everyone gets their share of the pie? It seems to be missing the mark.

According to reports, Florida has had a long-standing problem with drug diversion. People have travelled from all parts of the world to Florida for the sun and the oxies, the roxies, and other controlled substances. Is that problem being solved? Did law enforcement have any discussions with law enforcement about the law’s public safety implications? They were present in the drafting of the bill. It is difficult to see their fingerprints on this new law, though I don’t think so. This seems like we’ve just handed this issue to them! For example, where is the roadside testing to check people driving under the influence of marijuana, medical marijuana, or any other substance? It doesn’t even exist! It is impossible to protect the public against this. They can only send it to a confirmation laboratory and wait for a few days (at a high cost to taxpayers). It has no meaningful consequences and all fees for licensure and doctor training will go to the government.

One bright spot… The Legislature has chosen to study medical marijuana. Yep. One BILLION has been set aside. One BILLION dollars have been set aside for the Department of Health Biomedical Research Program, which will study cannabidol’s effects on intractable childhood seizures. This is a very noble idea. Where will the rest of that money come from? The Department of Health has created a Compassionate Use Registry. This registry prevents patients from seeking prescription pot from multiple doctors; creates dispensing organisations throughout Florida; and polices those who are abusing the law. You never know. Question: Why not do this BEFORE the entire idea is approved? Both Washington and Colorado have been leaders in this area. Why not investigate the clinical and public health issues before you pass a law that leaves so many questions open?

Proposed Amendment

The Florida Constitution Amendment proposed by the Legislature makes the law passed look meticulous. The whole issue looks like a façade for big business and recreational marijuana use. The amendment permits marijuana use (not just low THC) for many ailments, including “other conditions for whom a physician believes that medical marijuana use would likely outweigh any potential health risks for patients.” Because I am a lawyer, I can translate it. It can be translated as “ANYTHING”. And even better, who makes that determination? A “physician” is a term that Florida law defines as a doctor. This definition includes dentists, podiatrists chiropractors and optometrists. The great thing about the amendment is that it clearly prohibits marijuana use at schools, places of employment and in public places. [The Florida law says that a vaporizer doesn’t constitute “smoking .”]..” Good. How will they be tested? It is not possible to test blood levels quickly on the spot.

Let’s be real here, the proposed amendment is a way of creating a new industry. It can’t be regulated and it doesn’t have any agreed-on science. It’s also one that doctors haven’t had the time or the resources to fully understand. It is a mud-bogging situation, plain and simple. This should not be the result of the scientists and physicians who can help guide the legislative process.

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