Medical marijuana telehealth measure receives unanimous support

by | Mar 17, 2023


  • The House Health and Human Services Committee unanimously passed a bill on Friday that would enable physicians to renew medical marijuana certifications through telehealth appointments. 
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, state Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo authorized physicians to grant certification renewals remotely, but the order expired in June 2020. 
  • The bill keeps in place a requirement that the initial qualifying consultation must be conducted in person.

The House Health and Human Services Committee approved a bill introduced by Rep. Spencer Roach on Friday that would allow physicians to use telehealth methods to renew medical marijuana certifications for qualified patients.

The proposed legislation, House Bill 387, would keep in place the requirement that a physician must conduct the initial qualifying physical examination in person, but establishes that renewals could be completed remotely. During the COVID-19 pandemic, state Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo authorized physicians to grant certification renewals remotely, but the order expired in June 2020.

“[The bill] would treat the use of medical marijuana just like other medicines in the state of Florida,” said Roach. “We sort of had an unforced trial run with this in Florida for approximately eight months. [We] really didn’t see any problems there.”

Roach also touched on several factors that doctors and physicians must take into account when granting an individual a medical marijuana card, including their propensity to become addicted to the drug. The statute would mirror restrictions and prohibitions that are currently written into state law.

“One of the things they have to consider is that the use of marijuana to treat a condition would outweigh the health risks to the patient,” said Roach. “It’s the same thing a doctor would do when prescribing an opioid or other addictive substance.”

In Florida, medical marijuana is available for patients who have been diagnosed with debilitating cancer, epilepsy, or Parkinson’s disease, among nearly a dozen additional ailments.

Medical marijuana was legalized in Florida with the passing of Amendment 2 in November 2016. The amendment legalized the use of medical marijuana for individuals with debilitating medical conditions and permitted patients to possess the drug for medicinal use.

Florida officials in December announced that the state will issue 22 more medical marijuana operating licenses, with the Department of Health laying out guidelines for businesses to enter the industry.

Just 19 providers actively manage state-approved dispensaries in Florida, irrespective of the fact that medical marijuana is a multibillion-dollar industry in Florida. According to state law, officials and regulators must grant four new licenses for every 100,000 new patients who enter the market.

According to Marijuana Moment, Florida’s number of patients participating in the medical marijuana program has increased by 71 percent over the past two years from 455,425 in 2020 to 779,465 by the end of 2022. As of February 2023, there are over 2,500 qualified physicians and over 790,000 qualified patients in Florida.

1 Comment

  1. Ray

    1) The state needs to make the use of medical marijuana available to all by means of local pharmacies.
    2) the state needs to mandate that any and all insurance companies must cover the cost just as it does for other controlled substance!

    Reply

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