Florida officials begin Medical Marijuana Rules Process

Posted by Sagar Satapathy on January 18, 2017.

Florida health officials have started the rules-making process that will allow eligible residents to receive and purchase medical marijuana. The Department of Health on Tuesday published the proposed rules for a statewide medical marijuana program and announced that public hearings will be held in five cities Feb. 6-9 in this regard.

According to the proposed rule, only patients with one of 10 specific medical conditions, including cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis would have access to the medical marijuana, unless the Florida Board of Medicine specifically identifies additional debilitating conditions to use the drug.

However, the Amendment 2, which was passed by the Florida voters during November ballot, allows doctors to recommend marijuana to patients with any debilitating condition if "a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks."

The proposed rule would not allow any new growers or dispensaries to distribute medical marijuana in Florida. Currently, there are seven licensed dispensing organizations to grow, process and sell marijuana in the state.

The rule also maintains most of the regulations put in place by the Legislature and the health department in creating the low-THC marijuana program, including requirements that doctors take an eight-hour training course and be registered with the state. It also states that a statewide database of patients and ID cards to those patients would be created.

“We look forward to receiving input from all interested stakeholders through the open and transparent rule-making process.” Department of Health spokeswoman Mara Gambinieri said.  "That's why we're having the five public meetings, supplemented by the ability to provide comments online.

The state legislature and Department of Health have to revise current rules until July and implement them by September.

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