This is one of my most popular questions amongst people who inquire about the treatment of medical cannabis. Many people wonder whether or not their primary care can give them a recommendation for medical marijuana. To be totally honest it depends! In the state of Florida, there are specific requirements a physician must meet before he or she can recommend medical marijuana as a form of treatment to qualifying patients. But what exactly are the requirements?
First off, in order for any physician to become qualified to write recommendations for medical marijuana, he or she must possess an active, unrestricted physician license under Chapter 458 F.S., or an active, unrestricted osteopathic physician license under Chapter 459, F.S. in the state of Florida. Please keep in mind, this is extremely important when it comes to any type of medical treatment, not just medical cannabis.
“The primary legislative purpose in enacting this chapter is to ensure that every physician practicing in this state meets minimum requirements for safe practice” (2018).
Next, a physician who meets the requirements mentioned above must complete the required 2-hour course and examination in order to gain access to the Florida Department of Health Medical Marijuana Use Registry. In addition to the initial 2-hour course and examination, the physician must successfully complete the course and examination each time his or her license is renewed in order to remain an active medical cannabis physician.
Also, a physician must be able to determine that the benefits of medical marijuana consumption outweigh the risks and will be beneficial as a form of treatment for each individual patient seeking out a recommendation. I became an advocate for medical cannabis after working in the ER and seeing the opioid epidemic increase at an alarming rate. With minimal side effects and zero death tolls, I knew cannabis was an alternative to opioids that I wanted to offer my patients. I am all for weighing out the pro’s and con’s for each individual patient and their situation. “If a patient is younger than 18 years of age, a second physician must concur with the low-THC or medical cannabis order, and such determination must be documented in the patient’s medical record” (2018).
Remember in the state of Florida, a qualified medical marijuana physician like myself cannot prescribe, however we can write a recommendation for medical cannabis. Hopefully over time this will change, but for now upon approval, patients are advised that medical cannabis cannot be prescribed and that there is no scientific data or criteria on dosing. I always advise patients to start with a low dose and then we can slowly increase dosing while monitoring for adverse reactions.
For more information on medical marijuana or how to register please click here.