The “Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014” (the “CMCA”) was signed into law by Governor Rick Scott on June 16, 2014.
The Florida Department of Health (“DOH”) has been charged with creating and adopting rules necessary to implement the CMCA.
With years of experience in the health field and dealing with the DOH and other health related agencies at both the federal and state levels, the attorneys at The Health & Business Law Group are in a keen position to assist medical providers and business owners interested in entering this new arena making sure they are in compliance with all new laws, rules and regulations.
Effective January 1, 2015, the CMCA authorizes Florida licensed medical doctors (MD’s) and Florida licensed osteopathic physicians (DO’s) to order low-THC cannabis to patients suffering from cancer or a physical medical condition that chronically produces symptoms of seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms.
The CMCA specifies that one of the following conditions must exist in order for a physician to order low-THC cannabis for a patient:
- Cancer or a physical medical condition that chronically produces symptoms of seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms that can be treated with low-THC cannabis, or
- Symptoms of cancer or a physical medical condition that chronically produces symptoms of seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms that can be alleviated with low-THC cannabis.
Physicians may also order low-THC cannabis for qualified patients if no other satisfactory alternative treatment options exist for that patient and requires that all conditions listed must apply.
- The patient is a permanent resident of the state.
- The physician determines that the risks of ordering low-THC cannabis are reasonable in light of the potential benefit for that patient.
The CMCA authorizes the establishment of five dispensing organizations to ensure reasonable statewide accessibility and availability necessary for patients registered in the compassionate use registry. These five dispensaries are to be located in the Northeast, Northwest, Central, Southeast, and Southwest regions of the state.
The CMCA also creates a network of state universities and medical centers to enhance access to investigational new drugs for Florida patients through approved clinical treatment plans or studies.
Before ordering low-THC cannabis for use by a patient in Florida, the appropriate board shall require the ordering physician licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459 to successfully complete an 8-hour course and subsequent examination offered by the Florida Medical Association or the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association that encompasses the clinical indications for the appropriate use of low-THC cannabis, the appropriate delivery mechanisms, the contraindications for such use, as well as the relevant state and federal laws governing the ordering, dispensing, and possessing of this substance. The first course and examination shall be presented by October 1, 2014.
The dispensaries will be required to contract a medical director. The medical director will be required to successfully complete a 2 hour course and subsequent examination by the appropriate board. The medical director must be onsite or available by telephone, pager or other electronic communication and must designate a back-up medical director when not so available. The medical director shall provide for standards and protocols that ensure proper testing of low-THC medical cannabis products for potency and contamination, and that prevent diversion and/or trafficking. The medical director shall assist with the development and implementation of policies and procedures regarding, at a minimum, emergency responses, sanitary practices, compliance with state and federal regulations regarding confidentiality of personally identifiable health information, quality assurance, and disease prevention. The medical director shall also respond to the DOH and local municipalities regarding compliance with rules and regulations and community health and public safety concerns.
All dispensary employees must be at least 21 years old and must have an eligible Level-2 background screening within the past year prior to employment. Dispensaries will also be required to
With approval from the DOH, dispensing organizations may alter, expand or consolidate their infrastructure, operations or staffing structure in order to better serve patients, provided the changes comply with the requirements of the CMCA and promulgated rules.