Patient Treated with Low-THC Cannabis in Florida

The Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 was so restrictive that it is unlikely to actually result in any real impact in Florida for doctors who want to recommend low-THC cannabis or high CBD-cannabidiol for a patient’s treatment. In 2016, over 71% of Florida voters passed Amendment 2 which created a better path to medical marijuana.

Twenty-three states, the District of Columbia, and Guam have laws that permit the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Eleven states allow limited access to marijuana products which includes both low-THC and/or high CBD-cannabidiol. Those states include Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin.

The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, FL, work with clients to stay in compliance with the new regulations. Our attorneys also represent clients subjected to enforcement actions initiated by law enforcement and the Florida Department of Health against patients, physicians recommending medical marijuana, and businesses that are accused of operating outside the regulatory structure for medical marijuana in Florida.

Call (813) 250-0500 for a consultation today.

Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014

The Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 allows a licensed allopathic or osteopathic physician in Florida who has completed the required training and who has examined and is treating such a patient to order low-THC cannabis for that patient to treat a disease, disorder, or condition or to alleviate its symptoms. Low-THC treatment is only allowed if no other satisfactory alternative treatment options exist for that patient.

The act creates exceptions to existing law to allow qualified patients and their legal representatives to purchase, acquire, and possess low-THC cannabis, up to the amount ordered, for that patient’s medical use, and to allow dispensing organizations (DO), and their owners, managers, and employees, to acquire, possess, cultivate, and dispose of excess product in reasonable quantities to produce low-THC cannabis and to possess, process, and dispense low- THC cannabis.

DOs and their owners, managers, and employees are not subject to licensure and regulation under ch. 465, F.S., relating to pharmacies.

Requirements for the Physician Recommending Low-THC Marijuana

In order to meet the requirements of the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, all of the following conditions must apply:

  • The patient is a permanent resident of Florida;
  • The physician determines that the risks of ordering low-THC cannabis are reasonable in light of the potential benefit for that patient;
  • The physician registers as the orderer of low-THC cannabis for the patient on the compassionate use registry (registry) maintained by the Department of Health (DOH) and updates the registry to reflect the contents of the order;
  • The physician maintains a patient treatment plan that includes the dose, route of administration, planned duration, and monitoring of the patient’s symptoms and other indicators of tolerance or reaction to the low-THC cannabis;
  • The physician submits the patient treatment plan quarterly to the UF College of Pharmacy for research on the safety and efficacy of low-THC cannabis on patients; and
  • The physician obtains the voluntary informed consent of the patient or the patient’s legal guardian to treatment with low-THC cannabis after sufficiently explaining the current state of knowledge in the medical community of the effectiveness of treatment of the patient’s condition with low-THC cannabis, the medically acceptable alternatives, and the potential risks and side effects.

See ch. 2014-157, L.O.F., and s. 381.986, F.S.

If a patient is younger than 18 years of age, a second physician must concur with this determination, and such determination must be documented in the patient’s medical record.

Definitions in Florida for Low-THC Cannabis Treatment

The Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 defined “low-THC cannabis,” as the dried flowers of the plant Cannabis which contain 0.8 percent or less of tetrahydrocannabinol and more than 10 percent of cannabidiol weight for weight, or the seeds, resin, or any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant or its seeds or resin. See Section 381.986(1)(b), F.S.

Under s. 381.986(1)(c), F.S., the term “medical use” is defined as the administration of the ordered amount of low-THC cannabis. The term does not include the possession, use, or administration by smoking, or the transfer of low-THC cannabis to a person other than the qualified patient for whom it was ordered or the qualified patient’s legal representative.

Section 381.986(1)(e), F.S., defines the term “smoking” as burning or igniting a substance and inhaling the smoke. Smoking does not, however, include the use of a vaporizer.

Section 381.986(4), F.S., requires such physicians to successfully complete an 8-hour course and 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, appropriate delivery mechanisms, contraindications for such use, and the state and federal laws governing its ordering, dispensing, and processing.

Criminal Charges against Physicians Who Order Low-THC Cannabis

A physician who orders low-THC cannabis for a patient without a reasonable belief that the patient is suffering from a required condition and any person who fraudulently represents that he or she has a required condition to a physician for the purpose of being ordered low-THC cannabis commits a misdemeanor of the first degree.

The DOH is required to monitor physician registration and ordering of low-THC cannabis in order to take disciplinary action as needed.

This article was last updated on Friday, February 3, 2017.