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RECOMMENDING CANNABIS IN FLORIDA
To recommend medical marijuana, physicians in Florida must:
- Hold an active, unrestricted license as a physician under Chapter 458 of Florida Statutes or as an osteopathic physician under Chapter 459;
- Have treated the patient for at least three (3) months prior to recommending and registering the patient for medical marijuana use; and
- Have successfully completed a training course on medical marijuana.
Florida law requires all physicians who wish to recommend medical marijuana to successfully complete a 2-hour course offered by the Florida Medical Association or the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association. In addition to increasing their knowledge on medical cannabis, physicians will earn 8 AMA PRA Category 1 CME Credits(TM) that can also be used towards licensure and accreditation requirements. Successful completion of this course fulfills the Florida state requirement for physicians who wish to order cannabis for their patients' use. The physician must successfully pass an examination upon completion of the course. To remain eligible to recommend medical marijuana, each physician must retake the training course every time he or she renews the license.
In addition to the requirements described above, each physician who wishes to recommend medical marijuana must comply with the following requirements:
- Must conduct a physical examination while physically present in the same room as the patient and a full assessment of the medical history of the patient.
- Diagnosed the patient with at least one qualifying medical condition.
- Must determine that the risks of treatment with medical marijuana are reasonable in light of the potential benefits; for all patients younger than 18 years of age, a second physician must concur with that determination, which must be documented in the patient's medical record;
- Must explain in sufficient detail to the patient or the patient's legal representative the current state of knowledge concerning the efficacy of medical marijuana treatments, the potential risks and side effects of those treatments, and any medically acceptable alternatives;
- Must obtain from the patient or the patient's legal representative voluntary written informed consent to treatment with medical marijuana;
- Must maintain a patient treatment plan that includes the dose, route of administration, planned duration, and monitoring of the patient's symptoms and other indicators of tolerance or reaction to the cannabis;
- Must not order for the patient more than a 45-day supply of medical marijuana;
- Must not be a medical director of a "dispensing organization," as defined in Chapter 381.986, Florida Statutes.
In accordance with Florida law, the Department of Health created an online statewide registry, known as the "compassionate use registry." This database provides the only means by which doctors in Florida can order medical marijuana for their patients who qualify for such medicine. Dispensing organizations will also use this registry to verify that a patient is eligible to receive medical marijuana.
Physicians use the compassionate use registry to register themselves as the orderers of medical marijuana for their patients and to enter orders for medical marijuana as well as any cannabis delivery device to be filled by one of the licensed dispensing organizations. Instructional guidelines for registration can be found here Instructional guidelines for registration can be found here.
In using the registry, the physician must comply with the following requirements:
- Must specify such amount of medical marijuana that will not exceed a 45-day supply per order;
- Must update the registry within seven (7) days of any change to the original order;
- Must deactivate a patient's or legal representative's registration if treatment is discontinued.
 The requirements for obtaining written informed consent from terminally ill patients eligible for "medical cannabis" are set forth in Section 499.0295(2)(e) of Florida Statutes and may be viewed at the following link: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0400-0499/0499/Sections/0499.0295.html
Qualifying Medical Conditions include:
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
- Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
- Crohn’s Disease
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those listed above
- A terminal condition diagnosed by a physician other than the qualified physician issuing the physician certification
- Chronic Nonmalignant Pain
Medical professionals have a legal right to recommend cannabis as a treatment in any state, as protected by the First Amendment. Established by a 2004 United States Supreme Court decision to uphold earlier federal court rulings that found doctors and their patients have a fundamental Constitutional right to freely discuss treatment options.
More resources for medical professionals can be found here.
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