Doctors and patients in Florida may be unaware of the new rules that took effect last week for smokable medical marijuana. Patients must sign a standardized consent form, which includes a new requirement that explains the dangers of smoking near oxygen tanks and notifying patients of risks to exposure to mold in the marijuana.
Also, physicians are now required to conduct in-person assessments of the patient, including family and social history, and determine if the patient is pregnant.
Statewide medical groups have not advertised or marketed the new regulations around the policy changes, leading Joel Rose, a Tampa physician, to “turn up the volume” on the new regulations.
When the rules were being crafted by the Joint Committee on Medical Marijuana, Rose said the task of implementing them could be intimidating because it might give off the perceived endorsement of smoking by the committee. But Rose felt the route the committee took best served the interest of the public.
“If you don’t agree with it, you don’t have to be a qualified physician and order medical marijuana for patients,” Rose said. “I kind of thought in my mind it’s a lot like abortion. The state allows abortions, and a lot of doctors don’t agree with that and aren’t going to perform abortions. So I kind of looked at it this way: What can we do to best serve the public and fulfill what the Legislature charged us with?”
“Personally, what I believe what we are doing is a workaround rather than the decriminalization of recreational marijuana,” said Jorge J. Lopez, a Maitland physician and member of the committee. “But this landed in our lap, and we have to work with it.”
Medical marijuana is continuing to grow exponentially in Florida, with more and more patients opting for treatment. In fact, the industry is expected to nearly double by the end of 2022 with the Florida Department of Health set to issue 15 new medical marijuana licenses in the next six months.
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