Pressure is mounting on Florida Governor DeSantis to eliminate dosage limits
Patients and advocates in Florida are fed up with restrictions on access to medical cannabis. Florida health officials enacted new emergency rules Aug. 29, placing explicit limits on the amount of medical cannabis patients can legally obtain and consume.
Advocates like NORML are worried, saying the emergency rules were made behind closed doors, with no input from the public. Additionally, the rules came nearly six years after voters originally approved Florida’s constitutional amendment establishing a medical cannabis system.
On September 8, Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried slammed the Florida Department of Health (DOH) and its Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU), calling on them to reverse “extreme” dosage restrictions enacted by an emergency rule, a process that offered less than three days notice to doctors and patients and no opportunity for public comment.
The Florida Department of Health’s OMMU website, Emergency Rule 64ER22-8, states that a qualified physician cannot issue a certificate for more than three 70-day cannabis supply limits or more than six 35-day supply limits of cannabis in smoking form. Additionally, a 35-day supply limit for smoking cannabis should not exceed 2.5 ounces. Many other restrictions have been added to the list.
The rules, however, allow doctors to request exceptions to the limits for certain patients.
Commissioner Fried announced the letter at a Sept. 8 press conference at the Florida Capitol where she was joined by medical cannabis patients and advocates, including Dr. Barry Gordon of the Compassionate Cannabis Clinic and Jodi James of the Florida Cannabis Action Network (FLCAN) to discuss why the emergency rules should be thrown out and how they may harm medical cannabis patients, such as those who need higher doses of THC.
“This rule change is unnecessary, poorly noticed in its implementation and extremely harmful impacts with hundreds of thousands of patients in Florida no longer able to access their medications in the amounts they need for effective treatment as determined by their doctors. This reflects a lack of understanding of medical cannabis by the DOH and OMMU at best and an act of cruelty at worst,” Commissioner Fried said. “We send a strong message to the DeSantis administration to put patients first, protect their access to forensic and lifesaving medicine, and rescind these restrictions. I will never stop fighting for our medical cannabis patients and full legalization.
Watch the video of the press conference here.
Commissioner Fried sent a public letter to the Surgeon General of Florida, who oversees DOH’s OMMU, and the letter can be downloaded here.
NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano described the newly imposed limits as a “solution in search of a problem”. He said: “These arbitrary and unnecessary limits were established without input from the patient community or physicians who specialize in monitoring medical cannabis patients. They will likely create unnecessary confusion and place an undue burden on patients and their physicians. Decisions about cannabis care should be made between patients and their doctors; they should not be made by bureaucrats.
Fried is an independently elected member of the Florida Cabinet.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis told a group of reporters Aug. 23 that medical cannabis licensees in the state had to pay more for their license application and renewal fees. State officials “should be charging these people more,” DeSantis said.