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Florida Marijuana Update: Doctors Have New Rules

Florida doctors will need to navigate new laws pertaining to medical marijuana. Here’s what you should know.

Medical Marijuana in Florida

Patients certified to smoke medical marijuana are now required to sign a new consent form that will include information about the dangers of smoking and advise users to check their supply for mold contamination.

This is a part of new practice standards issued by state. The issue however, is not the rules themselves but whether physicians can access them. The Office of Medical Marijuana Use does not have the new consent form available for medical practitioners and new guidelines are difficult to find.

The lack of access to critical information is putting healthcare providers in a tough position: continue on as usual or take time they don’t have to seek out instructions on their own. Like most professions, in medicine, time is money and many of these doctors need direct access to new rules related to their practice.

If these physicians don’t follow the new directives, they could face disciplinary action from the state medical board if an investigation shows they were noncompliant.

Where Did the Regulations Come From?

At this point, many of the doctors (and patients) being blindsided by these changes are wondering where all of this came from.

The Joint Committee of Medical Marijuana reached their decision unanimously, but committee members have found it difficult to go public with regulations that seem to endorse smoking. Several members of the joint committee feel that labeling smoking marijuana as medicinal and regulating its use is a stretch at best and a total turnaround from their fight against nicotine addiction and the dangers of cigarette smoke.

While the overall goal is to provide more regulation to protect patients, these measures cannot go into effect if the physicians don’t know about them.

Joel Rose, one of the people who helped draft the new rules, says, “They always say ignorance of the law is no excuse, but the word needs to get out.”

The goal of the new rule is to educate the public and provide a options for patients within a safer environment. Previously, there were some regulations regarding medical marijuana, but not enough to really make medical uses regulated and safe.

Rose and others hope that these new rules will help patients and doctors feel safer while navigating this relatively uncharted territory of marijuana as a medical treatment.

How Does It Work?

Physicians will be required to conduct in-person physical assessments in addition to family and social history to evaluate whether the patient has a history of abuse disorders or mental health issues that would make them prone to addiction. Doctors will also be required to submit a full report detailing their assessment.

The new standards will also require doctors to document preexisting medical conditions that could disqualify a patent from medical marijuana eligibility. Once they have performed all assessments and evaluations, the doctor will need to search the patient’s name in the drug database before signing a prescription. This helps to detect ‘drug seeking’ behavior and/or a history of prescription drug abuse.

The next step will be to alert patients and doctors to the changes and evaluate how these new standards will play out in the community. While new regulations may go a long way toward ensuring that medical marijuana is safer, it’s unclear how efficient they will be in practice.

Rose and others hope that once healthcare professionals become aware of the rules, they will be able to implement them quickly.

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