Medical marijuana is legal currently in Florida for patients with certain qualifying medical conditions. Becoming effective on January 3rd of 2017, Florida joined twenty-eight other states to become the 29th state in the US where medical marijuana can be legally used by its residents. Although technically the use of marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, Florida Statute 381.986 and Article X Section 29 of the Florida Constitution made legal both the authorizing of medical marijuana by a physician and its use by a patient.
Legal Medical Uses in Florida
The legal use of marijuana for medical purposes is based on numerous studies that indicate that its use is beneficial in treating various medical conditions and results in the reduction of pain, nausea and the loss of appetite experienced by many patients.
Under the new Florida laws, the use is restricted to “Debilitating Medical Conditions” and includes all of the following conditions:
– Parkinson’s disease
– Crohn’s disease
– Multiple sclerosis
– HIV (positive status for human immunodeficiency virus)
– AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome)
– PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
– ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)
However, the law also allows a prescribing physician the leeway to authorize the use of medical marijuana for “other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated” where the doctor believes its use would outweigh any possible potential health risks to a patient.
Medical Marijuana Use Registry
The Florida Department of Health now requires that all medical marijuana patients, caregivers and authorizing physicians register on the state’s Medical Marijuana Use Registry. The Internet based registry is a secure online database for the registration of ordering physicians and qualified patients. Interestingly the site notes that all of the information gathered is accessible to ordering physicians, law enforcement, dispensing organization staff, and the Office of Medical Marijuana Use staff. A search performed today returns a list of 1,225 physicians who have already registered to prescribe medical marijuana legally in Florida (Please note that the list is updated every Friday and the last update reflects March 9, 2018).
Dispensaries versus Pharmacies
Currently patients receiving medical marijuana in Florida must obtain their medications from a dispensary. So far there are approximately 82,000 patients who have obtained their Florida medical marijuana ID card and are currently entered into the state’s medical marijuana registry. As of last week, Florida currently has twenty-eight (28) legally operating cannabis dispensaries statewide. According to the state’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use, that equates approximately to one dispensary for every 3,000 patients legally qualified to receive the drug.
Many are asking why Florida does not allow pharmacies to perform and control the dispensing of medical marijuana within the state. Currently out of 29 states where medical marijuana is legal there are only three (3) states where the law requires that a pharmacist perform the actual dispensing:
– New York
Using these three states as an example, only a pharmacist is allowed to actually dispense medical marijuana to patients. In this scenario it is the pharmacist who selects and dispenses the medication for a patient, while the physicians identify who is eligible. Since the active ingredients of marijuana are classified as drugs (tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol), who is better qualified than a pharmacist to consult with a patient regarding their disease state, the goals of their therapy and the possible side effects of the drug than a pharmacist? The real question is not whether or not marijuana is considered a drug, but why would Florida allow a controlled drug to be dispensed to patients without a pharmacist overseeing the actual dispensing? Perhaps the Florida legislators should take a good look at the way that Connecticut, Minnesota and New York handle the dispensing of medical marijuana in their states and make it the responsibility of an actual healthcare team member to best ensure the welfare of Florida’s residents.
Healthcare Consultants Pharmacy Staffing
We welcome any questions that you may have regarding medical marijuana and pharmacies. Healthcare Consultants is a national leader in pharmacy consulting since 1989, with in-house specialists providing expert guidance across all sectors of the pharmacy industry. We work with businesses of every size – from the corner drug store to national corporations and organizations – with only one goal in mind: to improve your pharmacy’s business operations. Contact us today to see how our Pharmacy Consulting services can help you improve your business now and be ready for the future. Contact us online or call us at 800-642-1652 for a free consultation.