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  1. Proposed Florida Marijuana Card Regulations Have Been Issued

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    Florida Marijuana Card Regulations

    Florida medical marijuana legalization is in full swing! The Florida Department of Health has just issued proposed regulations outlining the requirement and procedures for obtaining a Florida medical marijuana card. Note that these draft Florida marijuana card rules at 64-4.011 will likely be updated and revised as the laws surrounding the new Florida medical marijuana amendment get proposed and passed by the Florida legislature. This means that these proposed regulations and Florida marijuana laws on who can, and how to, get a Florida marijuana card are likely to change significantly in the coming months. But, in the meantime, we thought it important for our readers to be able to read them and get a sense of what the requirements are likely to be. The draft rules do include a $75 application fee.

    Text of the Proposed Rule on Florida Marijuana Cards

    THE FULL TEXT OF THE PROPOSED RULE IS:

    64-4.011 Compassionate Use Registry Identification Cards.

    (1) All patients and legal representatives are required to have a valid Compassionate Use Registry identification card to obtain medical cannabis.

    (2) To apply for a patient Compassionate Use Registry identification card, a person must:

    (a) Be a Florida resident, as evidenced by a valid Florida driver’s license or identification card; a current utility bill in the person’s name including a Florida address; a current Florida voter registration card; or for minors, a certified copy of birth certificate or current record of registration from a Florida school (K-12), and proof of residency of designated legal representative,

    (b) Be a qualified patient who has been added to the Compassionate Use Registry, by an authorized physician licensed under Chapter 458 or Chapter 459, to receive low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis from a dispensing organization,

    (c) Submit DH8009-OCU-10/2016, “Qualified Patient Application,” and DH8011-OCU-10/2016, “Physician Certification,” which are incorporated by reference and available at http://www.flrules.org/Gateway/reference.asp?No=Ref-#### and http://www.flrules.org/Gateway/reference.asp?No=Ref-####.                               

    (3) To apply for a legal representative Compassionate Use Registry identification card, a person must submit DH8010-OCU-10/2016, “Legal Representative Application,” which is incorporated by reference and available at http://www.flrules.org/Gateway/reference.asp?No=Ref-####.

    (4) In order for a minor applicant to receive a patient Compassionate Use Registry identification card, the minor applicant must reside in Florida and have a legal representative designated in his or her application and in the online Compassionate Use Registry.

    (5) Each applicant shall pay a $75.00 non-refundable application fee in the form of a check or money order payable to the Department of Health. The card shall expire one (1) year after the date of the physician’s initial order.

    (6) An applicant shall have sixty (60) days from the date the department provides notice that the application is incomplete to make corrections, provide additional information or resubmit the application.

    (7) If there is no initial order by the patient’s authorized physician at the time of the approval of the applicant’s Compassionate Use Registry identification card, the Department will provide a temporary verification which may be used, with a photo ID, to obtain medical cannabis for a period of 30 days or until the applicant receives the permanent identification card, whichever occurs first.  

    (8) To maintain an active Compassionate Use Registry identification card, a patient and/or legal representative must annually submit DH8009-OCU-10/2016 and/or DH8010-OCU-10/2016, along with the application fee and any required accompanying documents to the department forty-five (45) days prior to the card expiration date.

    (9) When there has been a change in the patient’s name, address, or assigned legal representative, that patient must notify the department within ten (10) days by submitting a completed Change, Replacement or Surrender Request, DH8012-OCU-10/2016, which is incorporated by reference and available at http://www.flrules.org/Gateway/reference.asp?No=Ref-####. A patient who has not designated a legal representative at the time of application to the department may do so in writing at any time during the effective period of the patient’s registry identification card.

    (10) A patient who no longer has a qualifying medical condition shall return his or her registry identification card to the department within ten (10) days of receiving such information by his or her physician along with a completed Change, Replacement or Surrender Request, DH8012-OCU-10/2016.

    (11) Requests to replace a lost or stolen card will require the applicant to submit a Change, Replacement or Surrender Request, DH8012-OCU-10/2016, along with a copy of his or her Florida ID and a $15 replacement fee.

    (12) The department may revoke a Compassionate Use Registry identification card for any of the following, but not limited to:

    (a) The patient or legal representative makes material misrepresentations in his or her application;

    (b) The patient uses his or her card to obtain cannabis for another individual;

    (c) The legal representative uses his or her card to obtain cannabis for an individual who has not designated them as their legal representative or who is not a qualified patient

    (d) The patient or legal representative purchases, obtains, possesses, or uses cannabis not sold by an approved dispensing organization; or

    (e) The patient is no longer a qualified patient.  

    Rulemaking Authority 381.986(7)(j) FS. Law Implemented 381.986(7)(f) FS. History–New_________.

    You can check out the actual proposed rule (as published in the Florida Administrative Code) and also check for updates here.

    Florida Marijuana Doctors and Florida Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

    To search for an approved Florida marijuana doctor or licensed Florida cannabis dispensary in your area, go to our sister site here.

    Florida Marijuana Card Updates

    We will provide updates as the new Florida marijuana rules are changed and updated. You can also go to the Florida Department of Health’s website on Florida marijuana legalization (via its Office of Compassionate Use) here.

  2. Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Is Here!

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    Florida Marijuana Petition Passes!

    With more than 70 percent of the vote, Amendment 2 passed yesterday effectively guaranteeing Florida citizens the right to legally buy and use medical marijuana in Florida. The Florida marijuana petition that passed yesterday is clear that the law must be implemented soon by Florida lawmakers and regulators and that, if they delay, it will take effect automatically by operation of law. This means that the right to medical marijuana cannot be denied to any Florida citizen who follows the law.

    We, at the Florida Medical Marijuana Directory, will keep you posted as new laws and regulations on medical cannabis in Florida get proposed and passed. We will also be posting guides (on how to obtain a legal Florida marijuana card, for example) and other information to help patients and businesses comply with these new Florida marijuana laws and regulations.

    United for Care Amendment

    In the meantime (and while we wait for the final Florida medical marijuana laws and regulations to be passed), here is the full text of the United for Care petition that will ultimately become law:

    BALLOT TITLE: Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions

    BALLOT SUMMARY: Allows medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician. Allows caregivers to assist patients’ medical use of marijuana. The Department of Health shall register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes and shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers. Applies only to Florida law. Does not immunize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana.

    ARTICLE AND SECTION BEING CREATED OR AMENDED: Article X, Section 29

    FULL TEXT OF THE PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT:

    ARTICLE X, SECTION 29.– Medical marijuana production, possession and use.

    (a) PUBLIC POLICY.

    (1) The medical use of marijuana by a qualifying patient or caregiver in compliance with this section is not subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under Florida law.

    (2) A physician shall not be subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under Florida law solely for issuing a physician certification with reasonable care to a person diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition in compliance with this section.

    (3) Actions and conduct by a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center registered with the Department, or its agents or employees, and in compliance with this section and Department regulations, shall not be subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under Florida law.

    (b) DEFINITIONS. For purposes of this section, the following words and terms shall have the following meanings:

    (1) “Debilitating Medical Condition” means cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated, and for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.

    (2) “Department” means the Department of Health or its successor agency.

    (3) “Identification card” means a document issued by the Department that identifies a qualifying patient or a caregiver.

    (4) “Marijuana” has the meaning given cannabis in Section 893.02(3), Florida Statutes (2014), and, in addition, “Low-THC cannabis” as defined in Section 381.986(1)(b), Florida Statutes (2014), shall also be included in the meaning of the term “marijuana.”

    (5) “Medical Marijuana Treatment Center” (MMTC) means an entity that acquires, cultivates, possesses, processes (including development of related products such as food, tinctures, aerosols, oils, or ointments), transfers, transports, sells, distributes, dispenses, or administers marijuana, products containing marijuana, related supplies, or educational materials to qualifying patients or their caregivers and is registered by the Department.

    (6) “Medical use” means the acquisition, possession, use, delivery, transfer, or administration of an amount of marijuana not in conflict with Department rules, or of related supplies by a qualifying patient or caregiver for use by the caregiver’s designated qualifying patient for the treatment of a debilitating medical condition.

    (7) “Caregiver” means a person who is at least twenty-one (21) years old who has agreed to assist with a qualifying patient’s medical use of marijuana and has qualified for and obtained a caregiver identification card issued by the Department. The Department may limit the number of qualifying patients a caregiver may assist at one time and the number of caregivers that a qualifying patient may have at one time. Caregivers are prohibited from consuming marijuana obtained for medical use by the qualifying patient.

    (8) “Physician” means a person who is licensed to practice medicine in Florida.

    (9) “Physician certification” means a written document signed by a physician, stating that in the physician’s professional opinion, the patient suffers from a debilitating medical condition, that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for the patient, and for how long the physician recommends the medical use of marijuana for the patient. A physician certification may only be provided after the physician has conducted a physical examination and a full assessment of the medical history of the patient. In order for a physician certification to be issued to a minor, a parent or legal guardian of the minor must consent in writing.

    (10) “Qualifying patient” means a person who has been diagnosed to have a debilitating medical condition, who has a physician certification and a valid qualifying patient identification card. If the Department does not begin issuing identification cards within nine (9) months after the effective date of this section, then a valid physician certification will serve as a patient identification card in order to allow a person to become a “qualifying patient” until the Department begins issuing identification cards.

    (c) LIMITATIONS.

    (1) Nothing in this section allows for a violation of any law other than for conduct in compliance with the provisions of this section.

    (2) Nothing in this section shall affect or repeal laws relating to non-medical use, possession, production, or sale of marijuana.

    (3) Nothing in this section authorizes the use of medical marijuana by anyone other than a qualifying patient.

    (4) Nothing in this section shall permit the operation of any vehicle, aircraft, train or boat while under the influence of marijuana.

    (5) Nothing in this section requires the violation of federal law or purports to give immunity under federal law.

    (6) Nothing in this section shall require any accommodation of any on-site medical use of marijuana in any correctional institution or detention facility or place of education or employment, or of smoking medical marijuana in any public place.

    (7) Nothing in this section shall require any health insurance provider or any government agency or authority to reimburse any person for expenses related to the medical use of marijuana.

    (8) Nothing in this section shall affect or repeal laws relating to negligence or professional malpractice on the part of a qualified patient, caregiver, physician, MMTC, or its agents or employees.

    (d) DUTIES OF THE DEPARTMENT. The Department shall issue reasonable regulations necessary for the implementation and enforcement of this section. The purpose of the regulations is to ensure the availability and safe use of medical marijuana by qualifying patients. It is the duty of the Department to promulgate regulations in a timely fashion.

    (1) Implementing Regulations. In order to allow the Department sufficient time after passage of this section, the following regulations shall be promulgated no later than six (6) months after the effective date of this section:

    a. Procedures for the issuance and annual renewal of qualifying patient identification cards to people with physician certifications and standards for renewal of such identification cards. Before issuing an identification card to a minor, the Department must receive written consent from the minor’s parent or legal guardian, in addition to the physician certification.

    b. Procedures establishing qualifications and standards for caregivers, including conducting appropriate background checks, and procedures for the issuance and annual renewal of caregiver identification cards.

    c. Procedures for the registration of MMTCs that include procedures for the issuance, renewal, suspension and revocation of registration, and standards to ensure proper security, record keeping, testing, labeling, inspection, and safety.

    d. A regulation that defines the amount of marijuana that could reasonably be presumed to be an adequate supply for qualifying patients’ medical use, based on the best available evidence. This presumption as to quantity may be overcome with evidence of a particular qualifying patient’s appropriate medical use.

    (2) Identification cards and registrations. The Department shall begin issuing qualifying patient and caregiver identification cards, and registering MMTCs no later than nine (9) months after the effective date of this section.

    (3) If the Department does not issue regulations, or if the Department does not begin issuing identification cards and registering MMTCs within the time limits set in this section, any Florida citizen shall have standing to seek judicial relief to compel compliance with the Department’s constitutional duties.

    (4) The Department shall protect the confidentiality of all qualifying patients. All records containing the identity of qualifying patients shall be confidential and kept from public disclosure other than for valid medical or law enforcement purposes.

    (e) LEGISLATION. Nothing in this section shall limit the legislature from enacting laws consistent with this section.

    (f) SEVERABILITY. The provisions of this section are severable and if any clause, sentence, paragraph or section of this measure, or an application thereof, is adjudged invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction other provisions shall continue to be in effect to the fullest extent possible.

    Florida Marijuana Doctors, Dispensaries, and Florida Marijuana Businesses

    To search for licensed Florida marijuana dispensaries, approved Florida marijuana doctors, and Florida marijuana businesses, you can search our sister site here.

    God bless!

     

  3. Low-THC Sales Medical Marijuana Begin In South Florida

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    Check out this article from CBSMiami.com

    Haleigh’s Hope Low-THC Medical Marijuana Oil Available Today In South Florida

    MIAMI (CBSMiami) – South Florida-based medical cannabis provider, Modern Health Concepts, begins selling a strain of low-THC cannabis oil called “Haleigh’s Hope” on Monday.

    “Haleigh’s Hope,” similar to Charlotte’s Web, is an anti-seizure strain named after Haleigh Cox, a 5-year-old Georgia girl who suffers from a severe seizure disorder called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

    The oil contains high quantities of cannabidiol, or CBD, which provides relief to patients suffering from severe epilepsy, seizure disorders and muscle spasticity. Haleigh’s Hope does not contain marijuana’s psychoactive chemicals.

    Modern Health Concepts is run by South Miami-Dade’s Costa Farms, one of the five companies the state authorized to begin growing medical marijuana last year, in addition, it’s Florida’s only company licensed to manufacture Haleigh’s Hope.

    Haleigh’s Hope oil is available to qualified patients enrolled in the Department of Health Compassionate Use Registry. The company offers a mobile delivery program as well as appointments at the company’s first dispensary in South Miami-Dade.

    Registered patients may schedule appointments online at www.modernhealthconcepts.com.

    In early 2017, medical cannabis products will also be ready and MHC will launch additional retail locations next year as well.

    In the meantime, Floridians will vote on Amendment 2 in November which would allow medical use of marijuana for a broad range of conditions.

    Amendment backers fell just shy of having medical marijuana approved by voters in 2014. The state requires 60-percent approval for constitutional amendments, and the ballot question was supported by 57.6 percent of voters, just short of the 60-percent needed to become law in Florida.

    MIAMI (CBSMiami) – South Florida-based medical cannabis provider, Modern Health Concepts, begins selling a strain of low-THC cannabis oil called “Haleigh’s Hope” on Monday.

    “Haleigh’s Hope,” similar to Charlotte’s Web, is an anti-seizure strain named after Haleigh Cox, a 5-year-old Georgia girl who suffers from a severe seizure disorder called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

    The oil contains high quantities of cannabidiol, or CBD, which provides relief to patients suffering from severe epilepsy, seizure disorders and muscle spasticity. Haleigh’s Hope does not contain marijuana’s psychoactive chemicals.

    Modern Health Concepts is run by South Miami-Dade’s Costa Farms, one of the five companies the state authorized to begin growing medical marijuana last year, in addition, it’s Florida’s only company licensed to manufacture Haleigh’s Hope.

    Haleigh’s Hope oil is available to qualified patients enrolled in the Department of Health Compassionate Use Registry. The company offers a mobile delivery program as well as appointments at the company’s first dispensary in South Miami-Dade.

    Registered patients may schedule appointments online at www.modernhealthconcepts.com.

    In early 2017, medical cannabis products will also be ready and MHC will launch additional retail locations next year as well.

    In the meantime, Floridians will vote on Amendment 2 in November which would allow medical use of marijuana for a broad range of conditions.

    Amendment backers fell just shy of having medical marijuana approved by voters in 2014. The state requires 60-percent approval for constitutional amendments, and the ballot question was supported by 57.6 percent of voters, just short of the 60-percent needed to become law in Florida.

    You can find a link to the original article here.

    Search for Florida Marijuana Doctors and Florida Dispensaries

    We here at the Florida Medical Marijuana Directory are committed to providing you all the latest Florida marijuana new, information, and Florida marijuana service business listings.

    To search for Florida marijuana doctors and Florida medical marijuana dispensaries, go to our sister site and click here.

     

  4. Florida Marijuana Legalization Update

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    Florida Office of Compassionate Use Update

    The Florida Office of Compassionate Use, the office within the Florida Department of Health charged with adopting rules and enforcing Florida medical marijuana laws, has posted a video explaining current Florida marijuana laws and regulations.

    You can view the video here.

    Finding Florida Marijuana Doctors and Florida Marijuana Dispensaries

    For an easy way to search for Florida marijuana doctors approved to prescribe medical marijuana and to find Florida marijuana dispensaries, please click here.

     Transcript of Florida Marijuana Video

    Here is a full transcript of the Florida marijuana video posted above, posted here for the convenience of our readers:
    this presentation will discuss the current laws and regulations for medical
    0:03
    cannabis the implementation plan for the summer of 2016 and what that will look
    0:08
    like in practice the compassionate medical cannabis active 2014 charge the
    0:12
    Florida Department of Health with creating a regulatory infrastructure for
    0:16
    medical cannabis to accomplish this mandate the department established the
    0:20
    office of compassionate use in july of 2014
    0:23
    the OCU oversees the statewide Compassionate Use registry as well as
    0:28
    the licensing of Florida six dispensing organizations over the course of the
    0:33
    next 10 months
    0:34
    the Department propagated chapter 64 – for which contains the department’s
    0:38
    rules dealing with the regulation of medical cannabis these roles were upheld
    0:43
    in may of 2015 in july of 2015
    0:47
    the Department accepted 28 dispensing organization applications and in
    0:52
    November of 2015 the Department approved five applicants to become dispensing
    0:56
    organizations within 21 days of announcing the approved dispensing
    1:00
    organization the department had received 13 administrative petitions from
    1:05
    applicants that did not have the highest scores of their region
    1:09
    the department has also received a handful of additional challenges since
    1:13
    then each dispensing organization is required to comply with a timeline laid
    1:18
    out in statute each dispensing organization has met the requirements
    1:23
    for posting a five-million-dollar performance bond and requesting
    1:26
    cultivation authorization
    1:28
    the department has issued cultivation authorization for for dispensing
    1:32
    organizations
    1:34
    this means that there is currently cannabis legally growing in the state of
    1:38
    florida you can see a list under the first bullet of the dates each
    1:42
    dispensing organization was approved to begin cultivating cannabis sutera
    1:47
    therapeutics is currently growing in leon and hillsboro counties truly is
    1:52
    currently cultivating in Gaston County modern health concepts is growing in
    1:56
    miami-dade county and knocks nursery is cleared to begin growing in Orange
    2:01
    County in late March Governor Scott side house bill 307 which changed several
    2:07
    elements of cannabis law in Florida initially dispensing organizations were
    2:12
    only permitted to grow cannabis with very low THC THC is the active
    2:17
    ingredient in cannabis that results in users receiving the euphoric sensation
    2:22
    commonly known as high
    2:24
    the new law permits dispensing organizations to grow medical cannabis
    2:28
    which potentially have great deal of THC for the purposes of this discussion we
    2:33
    will mirror the statutory distinction between non euphoric low THC cannabis
    2:38
    and medical cannabis
    2:40
    house bill 307 initiated a second imported change the new law resulted in
    2:45
    the approving of a sixth dispensing organization grandiflora both
    2:50
    grandiflora and chestnut hill tree farm are located in alachua county though
    2:55
    neither has been approved to begin growing cannabis at this time we
    2:59
    anticipate both receiving cultivation authorizations this summer
    3:03
    Florida requires each of the six dispensing organizations to be
    3:07
    vertically integrated this means that all cultivation processing and
    3:11
    dispensing activities must be carried out by the dispensing organizations and
    3:16
    their employees
    3:17
    again these six companies are the only businesses legally allowed to grow
    3:22
    process or sell cannabis in Florida
    3:25
    the only exception to this is a carve-out for academic research in the
    3:29
    current law if you encounter cannabis businesses
    3:32
    other than the entities listed above they are operating outside the
    3:36
    regulations of the Department of Health the licensure process for dispensing
    3:41
    organizations split the state into five regions each dispensing organization is
    3:46
    required to provide access to medical cannabis for the patients in their
    3:50
    respective region you can see a visual depiction of the state’s five dispensing
    3:55
    regions on this slide
    3:56
    I would like to clarify one key point dispensing organizations are required to
    4:01
    serve their regions but they are permitted to serve other regions as well
    4:06
    specifically there are no Geographic restrictions for dispensing so for
    4:10
    example a Northwest dispensing organization may sell in the Southeast
    4:15
    region
    4:16
    and the southwest dispensing organization can open a dispensary in
    4:20
    the central region the Department anticipate dispensaries to open in every
    4:25
    major population centres in the state
    4:28
    the list you see here will likely be the location for the state’s first
    4:31
    dispensaries
    4:33
    this list is based on the information provided to the department by the
    4:36
    dispensing organizations in their applications any additional dispensary
    4:41
    locations must be approved by the Department
    4:44
    if your municipality has not been mentioned yet that does not mean that
    4:48
    medical cannabis will not affect it
    4:50
    state law allows for cannabis to be delivered to qualified patients
    4:54
    moreover dispensing organizations are permitted to conduct wholesale cannabis
    4:58
    sales to each other
    5:00
    this means that even if your city does not have a cultivation center or
    5:04
    dispensary
    5:05
    it will still likely have cannabis moving through it
    5:08
    additionally physicians all over the state will be ordering cannabis in their
    5:12
    offices and patients will be using medical cannabis products in every
    5:17
    region of Florida
    5:19
    we’re now going to discuss which patients are eligible to receive low THC
    5:23
    and medical cannabis
    5:25
    there are three overarching patient requirements to qualify for medical or
    5:29
    low THC cannabis first a patient must be diagnosed with a qualifying condition
    5:35
    seconde a patient must be a florida resident third a patient must have been
    5:40
    seeing the ordering physician for the immediate preceding three months
    5:45
    florida delineate cannabis into two categories of patients first patients
    5:50
    with cancer epilepsy or conditions causing chronic seizures or muscle
    5:54
    spasms are eligible for low THC cannabis
    5:58
    the second group of patients are those with a terminal condition if a patient
    6:02
    has two physicians a test that he or she is terminal
    6:06
    meaning that a patient’s condition will be fatal within one year that patient is
    6:11
    eligible for medical cannabis
    6:14
    florida law sets out a list of requirements for physicians looking to
    6:17
    order low THC or medical cannabis for patients
    6:21
    there are too strict initial requirements to be eligible to order
    6:24
    cannabis a physician can only order cannabis if he or she has an active
    6:29
    unrestricted license under chapters for 58 or 59 and complete and ate our course
    6:36
    and examination provided by the Florida Medical Association or the Florida
    6:41
    Osteopathic Medical Association those two requirements allow a physician to
    6:46
    gain access to the statewide registry the statewide registry is a cloud-based
    6:50
    online system mandated by florida statute physicians will use the registry
    6:55
    to register patients and to enter orders for low THC and medical cannabis
    7:01
    it is the only method for physicians to enter orders for low THC and medical
    7:05
    cannabis available in Florida and Florida dispensing organizations cannot
    7:10
    fill in order
    7:11
    created in any other form beyond the two requirements we discussed Florida law
    7:16
    has an additional set of requirements physicians must follow once they have
    7:20
    access to the registry a physician must treat a patient for at least three
    7:26
    months before registering the patient in the registry or issuing that patient and
    7:31
    order for medical cannabis obtained voluntary written informed consent from
    7:36
    the patient or his or her legal representative maintain a patient
    7:41
    treatment plan for each patient and submit the plan quarterly to the
    7:45
    University of Florida school of pharmacy order no more than a 45 day supply for
    7:50
    patients
    7:51
    finally physicians employed as medical director by one of the state’s
    7:55
    dispensing organizations may not order cannabis for patients this slide
    8:01
    summarizes how the workflow for ordering low THC and medical cannabis will
    8:06
    proceed first a physician must diagnose a patient with a qualifying condition
    8:11
    seconde a physician must go through the checklist of requirements in Florida law
    8:16
    namely see the patient for three months and obtain voluntary written consent for
    8:21
    a patient
    8:22
    the physician may then enter an order into the statewide registry for no more
    8:27
    than a 45 day supply next a physician must submit a patient treatment plan to
    8:32
    the University of Florida College of Pharmacy the college of pharmacy
    8:36
    currently has a template form on its website patient treatment plans must be
    8:40
    submitted quarterly
    8:42
    however if there is a change to the patient’s treatment plan a physician
    8:45
    must submit an update to us within 7 days of that change
    8:50
    finally a patient may feel his or her order at any dispensing organization in
    8:55
    the state
    8:56
    once an order has been filled it locks down and cannot be filled again at
    9:01
    another dispensing organization
    9:03
    moreover patients are linked to the physician issuing the order and cannot
    9:07
    receive multiple orders from multiple physicians in order for a patient to
    9:12
    switch physicians the primary physician must unlink him or herself from the
    9:17
    patient in the registry and a new physician must take over the patient’s
    9:21
    account to issue future orders
    9:24
    the new law had to import and logistical impacts first
    9:29
    it required a course provided by FM a and F oh ma to educate physicians on
    9:34
    medical cannabis and cannabis delivery devices in addition to low THC cannabis
    9:40
    the office of compassionate use is working with the FMA and fo ma to update
    9:46
    the required training course to reflect the new law
    9:49
    we anticipate this update will be completed this month
    9:52
    second the new law required several major changes to the compassionate use
    9:56
    registry
    9:57
    the department is currently making the required updates to the registry and it
    10:01
    will be back online and operational prior to cannabis products becoming
    10:05
    available
    10:06
    one of our most important tasks over the next few months is to keep you all
    10:11
    informed on where we are and where we’re going on this issue
    10:15
    dispensing organizations will be coming online this summer and early this fall
    10:19
    with the first anticipated to begin dispensing in July
    10:24
    this means that dispensing organizations will be growing processing and selling
    10:28
    physicians will be ordering and patients will be using cannabis products in not
    10:33
    years or months but week’s the office of compassionate use has and will continue
    10:38
    to issue a steady stream of updates and information specifically we are
    10:43
    providing written by weekly updates to law enforcement
    10:46
    physicians and other stakeholders we are also working with our colleagues at the
    10:50
    Department to conduct proactive outreach to qualified physicians with regulatory
    10:54
    information and are targeting physician networks to make sure that physicians
    10:59
    are as informed as possible about this process each dispensing organization is
    11:06
    currently moving through an authorization process each company must
    11:10
    be cleared by the department to begin cultivation processing and dispensing
    11:14
    this is a process that occurs sequentially and in stages
    11:18
    four of the six dispensing organizations have begun growing cannabis and are now
    11:22
    moving forward with processing authorization
    11:25
    we will continue to provide information and updates as they become available
    11:30
    the Department will review and enforce violations of any of the requirements of
    11:35
    section 3 81 . 986 as needed anything occurring outside of or in violation of
    11:42
    the requirements of the statute may be subject to disciplinary proceedings by
    11:46
    the department or possible criminal proceedings
    11:50
    section 3 81 . 986 florida statute provides for use of medical cannabis and
    11:55
    low THC cannabis via only authorized medical use and prohibits certain uses
    12:01
    of the product
    12:02
    patients may not smoke medical cannabis or low THC cannabis they cannot transfer
    12:07
    the product or use it in prohibited places including public places on school
    12:12
    grounds and modes of transportation
    12:14
    the statute also details the requirements ordering physicians must
    12:19
    abide by in ordering the product
    12:22
    ordering physicians must make certain medical determinations prior to ordering
    12:25
    the product and in order to lawfully order the product they must determine
    12:30
    the risk are reasonable in light of the benefit to the patient
    12:34
    documentation is required for patients under 18 by two physicians before or
    12:39
    during the product physicians must register as the ordering physician for
    12:43
    that patient indicate the order amount which cannot be more than a 45 day
    12:47
    supply if the order changes the ordering physician has seven days to update the
    12:53
    registry and they must deactivate the patient in the registry
    12:56
    when they stop treating that patient treatment plans are required for
    13:01
    ordering physicians and written informed consent is mandatory for both low THC
    13:05
    cannabis and medical cannabis low THC cannabis informed consent is detailed in
    13:11
    the statute and section for ninety 90 to 95 subsection 2 e experimental
    13:18
    treatments for terminal conditions and provides that written informed consent
    13:22
    for medical cannabis must include a document that is signed by a patient
    13:27
    parent of a minor patient a court-appointed guardian of a patient or
    13:31
    healthcare surrogate designated by a patient that includes an explanation of
    13:36
    the currently approved products and treatments for the patient’s terminal
    13:40
    condition and attestation that a patient concurs with his or her physician in
    13:45
    believing that all currently approved products and treatments are unlikely to
    13:49
    prolong the patient’s life
    13:51
    identification of the specific product the patient is seeking to use a
    13:56
    realistic description of the most likely outcomes of using the investigational
    14:00
    product biological product or device a statement that the patient’s health plan
    14:05
    isn’t required to pay unless otherwise required by law
    14:09
    a statement that the patient eligibility for hospice care may be withdrawn
    14:13
    if the patient begins the treatment with the experimental product but could be
    14:18
    reinstated after treatment ceases a statement that the patient understands
    14:22
    he or she is liable for all expenses consequent to the use of the
    14:26
    investigational product and liability extends to the estate
    14:30
    the statute provides that it’s a crime for the ordering physician to order
    14:34
    without a reasonable belief that the patient qualifies for low THC or medical
    14:40
    cannabis
    14:40
    it also prohibits payment of kickbacks to the physician from the dispensing
    14:44
    organization and specifically delineates that it is a violation of the practice
    14:49
    act and the prohibition against exercising influence for the purpose of
    14:54
    financial gain
    14:55
    this means that the physician may be charged with one or both violations in a
    15:00
    licensor disciplinary proceeding if it can be shown that payment was made from
    15:04
    the dispensing organization to the physician if an ordering physician
    15:08
    hasn’t complied with the educational requirements listed in the statute
    15:12
    prior to ordering they can be charged under the practice act and the
    15:16
    prohibition against failing to comply with a legal obligation in a licensor
    15:20
    disciplinary proceedings under 456 . 071 subsection 1 k florida statutes other
    15:28
    charges under the practice act may include practicing beyond the scope
    15:31
    permitted by law under sections for 58 . 3 31 subsection 1 V or 459 . 015
    15:39
    subsection 1 z florida statutes the statute provides that the department is
    15:46
    mandated to monitor registration and ordering by physician for ordering
    15:50
    practices that could facilitate unlawful diversion or misuse of the products and
    15:55
    take disciplinary action as indicated
    15:58
    although the statute sets out to specifically enumerated offenses for
    16:02
    disciplinary action against a physician
    16:04
    the department has the authority and is required to initiate disciplinary action
    16:09
    for any violations indicated through the ordering practices of physicians
    16:13
    permitted to order the products
    16:16
    patients may also be charged with a crime if they fraudulently represent
    16:20
    they qualify for the product
    16:22
    or for using the product in prohibited places dispensaries also have many
    16:28
    regulations that they must comply with through the growing processing and
    16:32
    dispensing process as well as the operation of the dispensary in the
    16:37
    growing process the dispensing organization may use approved pesticides
    16:42
    intended for human consumption
    16:43
    there’s a specific prohibition against using restricted use pesticides under
    16:48
    Section 487 . 04 to florida statutes growing structures must be enclosed and
    16:54
    not have any other plants in the growing room dispenser employees have to inspect
    16:59
    seed and plants for pests that would endanger or threaten horticulture and
    17:03
    agricultural interest with a requirement to notify the division of Agriculture
    17:08
    and Consumer Services within 10 days if they are identified must treat remove or
    17:13
    destroy as required in Chapter 581 regulating the plant industry processing
    17:21
    of the product also requires that the process occur in an enclosed structure
    17:25
    and be separate from other plants the dispensary also has to test the product
    17:30
    and record the results of the testing to ensure that low THC cannabis is actually
    17:35
    low THC that both products are safe for human consumption and free from
    17:40
    contaminants the records must be kept for nine months and the dispensary has
    17:44
    to contract with an independent lab that performs audits to ensure the
    17:49
    dispensaries compliance with these regulations the packaging must be done
    17:54
    in compliance with us poison prevention packaging Act of 1970 found in 15
    17:59
    united states code section 147 one and other applicable sections the packaging
    18:05
    has to have a firmly affixed and legible label indicating the product is safe for
    18:10
    human consumption and free from contaminants the name of the dispensing
    18:14
    organization and the batch and harvest number
    18:17
    the dispensary must also keep to process samples from each batch for a period of
    18:23
    nine months for testing an audit
    18:26
    the prohibitions relating to the dispensaries dispensing the product
    18:29
    include the requirement that the dispensary not dispense more than a 45
    18:34
    day supply of the product the dispensing employee has to enter their unique
    18:39
    identifier into the registry the dispensary must verify the order and the
    18:43
    registry may only dispense or sell what was ordered by the physician
    18:48
    dispensaries also must verify the patient’s active registration the order
    18:54
    matches the order entered into the registry and that the order hasn’t been
    18:58
    previously filled up on dispensing the dispensary is required to record the
    19:03
    date-time quantity and form of the product dispensed in the registry in the
    19:10
    operation of a dispensary the facility must have an operational security system
    19:15
    clear and active video surveillance with time and date stamps sufficient lighting
    19:20
    and a tracking system for the product that tracks key events key events must
    19:25
    include when cannabis seeds are planted when plants are harvested and destroyed
    19:29
    and when the product is transported sold stolen diverted or lost dispensaries may
    19:36
    not dispense between 9pm and seven a.m. but the dispensary can perform all other
    19:42
    operations including delivery at any time
    19:46
    the storage of the products must be done in a secure locked room or vault to
    19:52
    employees of the dispensary or two employees of a security agency must be
    19:57
    on the premises at all times
    19:59
    employees are required to wear photo identification badges on the dispensary
    20:03
    premises
    20:04
    the dispensary must also have an alcohol and drug free workplace policy
    20:09
    the dispensary is required to report to law enforcement any theft diversion or
    20:14
    loss of the product within 24 hours after its discovered
    20:19
    because the dispensing organizations are permitted to transport the products
    20:22
    throughout the state for delivery to the patient
    20:25
    wholesale purchases or to other facilities and testing laboratories
    20:28
    certain requirements must be met by the organization during the transportation
    20:32
    process transportation manifest must be created and maintained for no less than
    20:38
    one year vehicles used to transport must be kept in good working order the
    20:44
    products must be locked in a separate compartment or container within the
    20:47
    vehicle to people must be in the vehicle during transportation and one person
    20:52
    must remain in the vehicle at all times
    20:55
    safety and security training must be provided by the dispensing organization
    20:59
    to the employees responsible for transportation of the products
    21:03
    the department is authorized to impose reasonable finds not to exceed ten
    21:08
    thousand dollars against a dispensing organization for violating 381 . nine
    21:14
    eight six four ninety 90 to 95 or any department rules relating to the
    21:19
    dispensing organizations failing to maintain qualifications for approval as
    21:24
    a dispensing organization endangering a qualified patients health safety or
    21:28
    security and properly disclosing personal and confidential patient
    21:32
    information
    21:33
    attempting to procure approval as a dispensary by bribe fraud or extortion
    21:38
    being convicted or found guilty of
    21:41
    regardless of adjudication a crime directly relating to the business of a
    21:46
    dispensing organization making or filing a report or record that the organization
    21:51
    knows to be false willfully failing to maintain required records willfully
    21:57
    impeding or obstructing employees or agents of the Department engaging in
    22:02
    fraud deceit negligence incompetence or misconduct in the business practice of
    22:07
    the organization making misleading deceptive or fraudulent representations
    22:12
    in or related to the business practice of the organization
    22:15
    having a license or authority to engage in any regulated profession or
    22:20
    occupation or business related to the business practices of a dispensing
    22:24
    organization acted against by any other jurisdiction if the violation is one
    22:29
    that would constitute a violation under Florida law violating a lawful order of
    22:34
    the department or agency of the state or failing to comply with a lawfully issued
    22:39
    subpoena of the department or agency of the state
    22:42
    now that we’ve covered the requirements of patients physicians and dispensing
    22:46
    organizations
    22:48
    it’s appropriate to consider the requirements and authorizations of the
    22:51
    department in enforcing the statute the department creates and maintains the
    22:56
    registry including information on patients legal representatives ordering
    23:00
    physicians and dispensaries law enforcement agencies are allowed access
    23:05
    to that registry in order to carry out their duties related to possible
    23:09
    violations of this statute or chapter 893 the department also creates and
    23:16
    maintains information that is available to the public that includes all approved
    23:20
    dispensing organizations including the medical director of the organization and
    23:24
    all physicians qualified to order the department also has the authority to
    23:29
    create registration cards for the qualified patients and their authorized
    23:33
    legal representatives
    23:35
    section 3 81 . 986 includes a carved out exception to the regulations of chapter
    23:41
    eight ninety three four individuals in lawful possession of the products in
    23:45
    compliance with the statute
    23:47
    this means if someone is possessing the product outside of what is permitted
    23:52
    they could be subject to prosecution criminally for a violation of chapter
    23:56
    eight 93 in furtherance the department’s responsibilities in regulating the use
    24:02
    of low THC and medical cannabis
    24:05
    the department is given inspection authority over dispensing organizations
    24:08
    which can be carried out at any time
    24:11
    the department is mandated to inspect a dispensary
    24:14
    if the department receives information that the products contain mold bacteria
    24:18
    or contaminants that could potentially cause adverse effects to the health of
    24:23
    patients or the environment
    24:25
    although we’ve made clear that any activity occurring outside of the
    24:29
    confines of section 3 81 . 986 could lead to possible criminal and
    24:34
    administrative actions
    24:36
    there are specific violations that could be anticipated now that the statute is
    24:40
    being implemented any organization or party dispensing or distributing
    24:45
    cannabis low THC cannabis or medical cannabis that is not one of the six
    24:50
    approved organizations does not have the authority to do so under Florida law if
    24:57
    a physician orders the product outside the confines of the statute for example
    25:01
    if the physician writes a prescription for or dispenses the product from his or
    25:06
    her own office or from any other organization besides one of the six
    25:10
    approved organizations they are in violation of the statute physicians
    25:15
    aren’t writing prescriptions under this law only ordering the product through
    25:20
    the registry
    25:21
    if a physician orders for a patient who has not been registered in The
    25:24
    Compassionate Use registry or for more than a 45 day supply for the patient
    25:29
    they are operating in violation of the statute additionally a medical director
    25:34
    could possibly be held liable for the actions of the dispensing organization
    25:38
    if the organization or its employees failed to comply with the requirements
    25:43
    of the statute because the department is the authorized regulatory agency for the
    25:48
    dispensing organizations as well as possible licensees operating outside of
    25:53
    the confines of the statute potential violations should be reported to the
    25:58
    Department of Health for review and investigation as appropriate
    26:02
    it’s important to note that no one may legally order or have the products at
    26:06
    this point because the dispensing organizations are not yet fully
    26:10
    operational
    26:11
    the office of compassion it uses the regulatory arm of the department tasked
    26:16
    with the regulation of dispensing organizations
    26:19
    however the division of medical quality assurance or mqa is the regulatory arm
    26:24
    of the department that handles complaints against individual licensees
    26:28
    and certain types of businesses including pharmacies mqa also handles
    26:33
    initial licensure of the individuals and businesses
    26:36
    it regulates
    26:38
    all licensees regulated by mqa can be reviewed by accessing the link found at
    26:43
    the bottom of this slide for our present purposes
    26:46
    the only licensees that can order the products under Section 3 81 . 986
    26:52
    florida statutes are medical doctors and osteopathic physicians the MQA complaint
    26:58
    prosecution and compliance process are all handled by different divisions
    27:02
    within mq as regulatory structure initial complaints are received and
    27:06
    evaluated by the consumer services unit or CSU CSU or the investigative services
    27:12
    unit is you will investigate the legally sufficient complaints
    27:16
    CSU which is located in Tallahassee can handle investigation of cases that do
    27:21
    not require local or fieldwork is you will investigate some or all of those
    27:26
    complaints requiring local or field work
    27:29
    once the investigation is completed CSU or is you will prepare an investigative
    27:34
    report and forward that to the prosecution services unit or psu for
    27:39
    review and prosecution as appropriate
    27:42
    if a case concludes through the full disciplinary process and a final order
    27:46
    is issued the compliance management unit c mu will ensure the licensees
    27:52
    compliance with the final order importantly the department is mandated
    27:56
    to report any and all possible criminal violations pursue it to section 456 .
    28:01
    066 florida statutes
    28:03
    this is applicable to all of the affirmation divisions in the MQA
    28:07
    enforcement process although a possible criminal violation may not come to light
    28:12
    in the investigation phase of a case it must still be reported if discovered
    28:16
    later by the Department this slide represents the current supervisory
    28:22
    structure for the Department of Health
    28:23
    CSU is you and CMU units there are local is you district supervisors in the north
    28:30
    central and southern parts of the state our field operations manager is house
    28:35
    out of Jupiter Florida and all other supervisors are located in tallahassee
    28:39
    florida this line represents the current is you managers and supervisors as well
    28:45
    as each of the 11 field offices we have throughout the state and the phone
    28:49
    numbers for each office
    28:51
    PSU is located in Tallahassee Florida psu has four sections and fifty two
    28:56
    attorneys devoted to the review and prosecution of all cases investigated by
    29:01
    the department
    29:02
    each section has a section manager supervising the activities of all
    29:06
    attorneys and staff located within the section the medical section handles
    29:11
    physicians physician assistants electrologist pain management clinics
    29:15
    office surgery centers and dietetics and nutrition the nursing section handles
    29:20
    all nursing licensees
    29:22
    all pharmacy licensees and podiatrists the Allied section handles every other
    29:27
    profession listed on the previously mentioned link including osteopathic
    29:32
    physicians the emergency action unit handles all cases in which a licensee
    29:36
    poses an immediate serious danger to public health safety or welfare this
    29:42
    unit covers all professions regulated by the Department the unlicensed activity
    29:47
    unit handles cease and desist orders and citations to individuals or businesses
    29:51
    practicing without a license that is regulated by the Department mqa provides
    29:57
    individuals needing to file a complaint against a person or entity a
    30:01
    user-friendly web page to facilitate filing of both complaints against
    30:05
    individuals or licensees regulated by the department
    30:08
    as well as information or links to other agencies for complaints that aren’t
    30:14
    regulated by the Department this easy to use web page is found at www.piofl.com
    30:20
    complaint . gov if the complaint is against a profession regulated by mqa
    30:27
    the user will be provided with a link to an electronic complaint form that will
    30:31
    ultimately be submitted to the consumer services unit for review
    30:35
    this slide shows what a copy of that complaint form typically looks like for
    30:40
    licensed individuals as well as a link to that PDF form
    30:45
    we are now going to cover the general disciplinary process that complainants
    30:49
    can expect to occur in cases prosecuted by the Department against licensees the
    30:54
    purpose in doing so is to provide information on expected time frames and
    30:59
    legal requirements that the department must abide by in order to enforce laws
    31:03
    and rules against licensees and violation
    31:06
    once the complaint is filed investigation is completed and the cases
    31:11
    referred to psu for review the receiving attorney will review the case and make a
    31:16
    determination of whether an administrative complaint should be
    31:19
    recommended the department and PS you do not have the unilateral authority to
    31:25
    file administrative complaints which are the formal charging documents against a
    31:29
    licensee chapter 4 56 provides that a probable-cause panel of the board or
    31:35
    department when applicable must make the determination that probable cause
    31:40
    does or does not exist to proceed the entire case including all documents
    31:45
    obtained through the department’s investigation is confidential until 10
    31:49
    days after a probable-cause panel determines that probable cause exists if
    31:55
    probable cause is not found the case will remain private and exempt from
    31:59
    public disclosure if a probable cause finding is made the Department will file
    32:04
    an administrative complaint with the agency clerk and initiate disciplinary
    32:08
    action against the licensee disciplinary proceedings against licensees who have a
    32:14
    vested property interest in their licenses are governed by chapter 1 20 of
    32:19
    the florida statutes known as the Administrative Procedures Act
    32:22
    as well as certain other procedural rules found in chapter 4 56 and the
    32:28
    florida administrative code these statutes and rules require actual notice
    32:32
    of any administrative complaint be given to a licensee through certain prescribed
    32:37
    means licensees are permitted to respond to an administrative complaint within 21
    32:42
    days of receiving notice if they do not they are considered to have waived their
    32:47
    right to dispute the administrative complaint or otherwise elected method to
    32:51
    resolve the complaint if a licensing does timely respond
    32:56
    they may elect to agree to or not dispute the material facts alleged in
    33:00
    the administrative complaint this affords them an opportunity to appear
    33:04
    before the board or department and present evidence in support of
    33:08
    mitigation of any penalty imposed if a licensee disputes the material facts
    33:13
    alleged in the administrative complaint
    33:16
    the complaint must be resolved through the referral to the division of
    33:19
    administrative hearings or Dora
    33:22
    this is commonly referred to as a formal hearing the Department carries the
    33:27
    burden of proof in these proceedings and that burden is clear and convincing
    33:30
    evidence the Florida rules of evidence generally apply to these proceedings
    33:35
    with a few exceptions
    33:37
    here’s an example of where clear and convincing evidence falls on the scale
    33:42
    of burdens of proof
    33:43
    it is just below the burden of beyond a reasonable doubt which is applicable to
    33:48
    criminal cases it is important to note both the burden of proof and the
    33:53
    evidentiary requirements of department prosecution’s because reliable and
    33:58
    admissible evidence will be necessary to successfully prosecute cases against
    34:03
    licensees operating in violation of section 3 81 . 986 florida statutes
    34:10
    if the evidence cannot be obtained or the burden cannot be met
    34:14
    the Department will be unable to proceed with investigation or prosecution of
    34:18
    complaints filed against licensees
    34:21
    it is also important to note that unlike purely civil actions licensees are able
    34:26
    to invoke their right to remain silent and licensure disciplinary proceedings
    34:30
    thus they may not be compelled to testify if they believe they would
    34:35
    incriminate themselves with any answers that they may give once a case proceeds
    34:40
    through a formal hearing at Dora the administrative law judge hearing the
    34:45
    case will issue a recommended order they do not have final order authority and
    34:50
    Department licensure disciplinary cases the recommended order is then presented
    34:54
    to the appropriate board or Department typically within 90 days and the board
    35:00
    will either adopt the recommended order reject all or part of the recommended
    35:04
    order and issue a penalty as appropriate
    35:08
    this is done in the form of a final order which concludes the disciplinary
    35:12
    process for that case this slide gives a general overview of the disciplinary
    35:18
    process we’ve just discussed in the form of a flowchart
    35:21
    the box is outlined with a green border are the only public portions of the
    35:26
    department’s disciplinary process for more information please visit the
    35:31
    department’s office of compassionate use website
    Published on Jun 17, 2016
  5. All Florida Dispensaries Now Approved To Sell Medical Marijuana

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    More Great Florida Marijuana News!

    The Office of Compassionate Use of the Florida Department of Health has officially approved all licensed Florida medical marijuana dispensaries to begin the legal sale of medical marijuana to qualified patients with medical cannabis prescriptions from an approved Florida marijuana doctor.

    Florida Marijuana Patient Helpline

    For those Floridians with questions about how to legally buy Florida medical marijuana, you can contact the Florida Department of Health’s official helpline at (850)245-4205 or read their Frequently Asked Questions here.

    Florida Marijuana Doctors and Florida Dispensaries

    To locate approved Florida marijuana doctors and licensed Florida marijuana dispensaries in your area, you can search here.

    (Note that all licensed Florida marijuana dispensaries are authorized to sell legal Florida medical marijuana throughout the entire state.)

  6. First Florida Medical Marijuana Sales Begin Next Week

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    More Great News: Florida Medical Marijuana Has Finally Arrived!

    According to the Lobbytools.com website, the first Florida cannabis dispensary will begin sales of medical marijuana in Florida next week. This means that Florida citizens who meet the legal criteria will be able to legally buy medical marijuana in Florida and that deliveries will be shipped throughout the state, including Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando and every small and large Florida city in between.

    Here is the Lobbytools article on the availability of legal Florida medical marijuana:

    “Hackney Nursery — doing business as Trulieve — announced Wednesday it had received formal authorization from the Florida Department of Health to dispense medical marijuana, according to Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of FloridaPolitics.com.

    It hopes to begin dispensing medical marijuana from its Tallahassee facility, and begin statewide deliveries, within a week.

    Trulieve is the first dispensing organization in the state to get state approval to begin dispensing the product, said a spokeswoman for the Department of Health.

    “We are happy to announce that we have passed all inspections — from growing and processing to dispensing — and are the very first medical cannabis provider in the state to receive these formal authorizations,” said Kim Rivers, the company’s CEO in a statement. “And we are most excited to get this much anticipated medicine to the patients of Florida.”

    Rivers said the company will have the low-THC cannabis available for statewide delivery immediately. Full strength marijuana products authorized under the state’s Right to Try Act will be available in early August.”

    ****

    To locate approved Florida marijuana physicians and licensed Florida dispensaries, click here.

  7. First Florida Medical Marijuana Ready for Sale

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    Great news! Legal Florida medical marijuana is almost here–

    Quiet harvest: Florida’s first medical marijuana crop cut up and stored

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida’s first legal harvest of marijuana is stored in multiple vacuum-packed, 441-gram bags in a freezer on the outskirts of Tallahassee.

    Each is the result of months of careful growing, monitoring, coaxing, and finally cultivating, scores of plants in a hidden farm overseen by horticulturalists and protected by armed guards.

    This is one of two production facilities operated by Surterra Therapeutics, the first of six companies to win state approval to grow and harvest medical marijuana for the seriously ill and dying.

    It is part pharmaceutical production facility, part grow house. Its operators say it is just the start of new business they hope will bring high-quality, and formerly unavailable, medicine to patients who need it the most.

    “It’s a very exciting place to be in the medical field in Florida right now, because this is not just a new medication we’re talking about,” said Dr. Joseph Dorn, Surterra’s medical director, whose career includes a dozen years in Florida hospice care. “This is a mindset transformation in the treatment of patients, probably tens of thousands of patients whose symptoms are not completely relieved right now.”

    Florida laws adopted in 2014 and this year allow two types of medical marijuana: non-euphoric strains, such as “Charlotte’s Web,” that is thought to help control seizures and ease symptoms of certain other medical conditions; and full-strength marijuana to alleviate pain, nausea and other symptoms for patients considered terminally ill.

    Since Surterra won approval to harvest last month, Florida has allowed four other companies to do the same: Chestnut Hill Tree Farm in Alachua County, Hackney Nursery in Gadsden County, Modern Health Concepts in Miami-Dade County, and Knox Nursery in Orange County.

    Such businesses are poised to expand considerably if the required 60 percent of voters in November cast ‘Yes’ ballots for Amendment 2, which would legalize full-strength marijuana for an estimated 450,000 Floridians with debilitating illnesses.

    And Surterra, an Atlanta-based start-up that partnered with the 30-year-old Homestead-based Alpha Foliage, plans to be among the state’s largest producers.

    The company operates a 6,000-square-foot facility in rural Tallahassee to grow the non-euphoric strain; another slightly smaller facility outside of Tampa grows the full-strength variety. Each is expected to supply medicine for 2,000 to 4,000 patients per month.

    “Surterra’s key thing is producing a consistent, high-quality, safe product,” said Susan Driscoll, the company’s president. “It’s for people who are sick.”

    Tight security

    Surterra’s primary growing facility outside of Tallahassee is housed in a windowless structure in a sparsely populated, rural area outside of the city. The building is under 24/7 video surveillance and is surrounded by a chain-linked fence with barbed wire.

    Nothing of the growing operation can be seen from the main road, and no signs announce its presence.

    Visitors are given instructions to the site verbally — no emailed addresses — to make sure its location is not accidentally shared.

    Employees and others that the company allows on the property must pass through two checkpoints, each with an armed guard, before reaching the main building.

    Once inside, security takes all cellphones and checks IDs a third time.

    Each marijuana plant, and anything harvested or discarded, is weighed and tracked by individual bar code.

    Waste is ground into near dust and mixed in as compost out back. (Employees are thinking about planting a vegetable garden in the spot.)

    “Nobody can slide away with it,” Driscoll said, motioning to the pockets in the protective jumpsuit workers are required to wear: “In fact these are sewn together.”

    In truth, it’s a lot of expense and effort for marijuana that would be useless to most would-be recreational smokers.

    This high-cannabidiol, low-tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC) type of cannabis does not produce the high typical of recreational marijuana.

    If one were to smoke it? “You’d probably just get a headache,” Driscoll said.

    Patients in need

    Matthew Hunter, a 33-year-old Jacksonville man with Stage IV esophageal cancer, hopes to be among the first to benefit from the newly available strains.

    Hunter started his third round of chemotherapy last week and believes marijuana may help alleviate the resulting nausea and pain.

    Florida law requires patients have at least a 90-day relationship with a doctor authorized to obtain marijuana before they may have access to the drug. He said he’s looking for one now.

    “My understanding is that it has some benefits during the chemotherapy process, which is pretty rough. I can attest to that,” Hunter said.”If it’s something that can be regulated and administered by a doctor, I just don’t see why that wouldn’t be the best route to go.”

    Dr. Paul Arnold, a Cape Coral physician specializing in pain management, said he has no patients who would qualify under existing law. But he said he gets calls regularly from people who claim they need it.

    While Arnold suspects many are simply looking for easy access to pot, he said many others likely suffer from illnesses that medical marijuana might help treat. He said it is far preferable to highly addictive and potentially lethal opioids patients are commonly prescribed.

    “It’s coming down the path of things available to a physician to treat pain, uncontrollable seizures,” he said. “And apparently it’s effective. So, I wanted to be able to do it, of course.”

    Controlled environment

    Growing marijuana is not like tending a ficus.

    Each of the plants must go through differing, highly controlled stages of growth to properly bloom the flowers that are the main source of marijuana’s potency.

    They are all born from “mother plants,” whose clippings take root over the course of two weeks in small pots.

    Young, newly rooted plants are moved to progressively larger pots and left to grow for about a month in a room that is brightly lit for 18 hours a day to encourage growth.

    They then move to one of two “flower rooms,” each housing about 200 plants, for the next two months.

    Here, the smell of fresh marijuana is overwhelming. They are exposed to a yellow-hued light and more darkness (about 12 hours), meant to mimic the changing seasons. This is what encourages the flowers to develop.

    “You’re kind of artificially messing with their grow cycles a bit,” said Wes Conner, cultivation manager at the facility.

    Ultimately, the flowers and any other useful parts of the plant are harvested. The first such harvest, which required specific state approval, took place in late June.

    Harvested product is taken to another room, where it is dried and ground in a device Connor likens to a “high-tech margarita mixer.” Workers then vacuum-seal it and stick it in a freezer.

    Smoking marijuana for any reason remains illegal in Florida. So all of this harvest will eventually be processed into cannabis oils, sprays, balms and capsules that are expected to be ready to ship next month.

    Surterra does not plan to offer edibles, such as the cannabis-laced cookies and candy offered in other medical marijuana states.

    “They concern me a little bit, because the body reacts very differently,” Driscoll said. “For some people it might take two hours, for some it might take four hours. We’re focused on trying to give people consistent product. It’s very hard to do that with edibles.”

    Legally gray

    Though marijuana remains illegal under federal law, authorities have generally allowed the states to experiment with legalization since 1996, when California voters first authorized its use for certain medical conditions.

    Twenty-five states, the District of Columbia and Guam allow comprehensive marijuana use for medical purposes, and several others are considering it this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

    Another 17, including Florida, allow for more limited medical marijuana use. Amendment 2 in Florida, which is on the November ballot, would only expand its allowable medical use for patients with strictly defined debilitating illnesses.

    Recreational marijuana use is allowed in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia. Recreational marijuana measures are on the ballot in nearly a half dozen states this fall, including California.

    With such a fuzzy regulatory patchwork, running a marijuana production and distribution operation in Florida comes with some unique logistical challenges, Surterra officials say.

    Simple things for most businesses, such as insuring vehicles used to transport the product, cost 10 times what they normally would, for instance, Driscoll said.

    Employee background checks require extra scrutiny. And Surterra is still meeting with several banks to make sure they won’t have difficulty in depositing earnings, a problem some marijuana businesses have had in states like Colorado.

    The legally gray nature of the business becomes even more apparent when a reporter asks Driscoll how the company got the seeds to even start the business. Buying them from out of state and bringing them to Florida would be a federal crime, after all.

    Her only explanation, even when pressed: “Cannabis is native to the state of Florida.”

    (Note: While cannabis certainly grows wild (and in legal and illegal farming operations) in North America, the plant likely originated in central Asia.)

    Opponents of Amendment 2 have been largely mum about the 2014 and 2016 laws. Christina Johnson, spokeswoman for the “Vote No on 2″ campaign, said that’s because they were not constitutional amendments.

    “Charlotte’s Web and Right to Try legislation on the other hand can be changed, limited or altered by Florida statute every year unlike Amendment 2,” Johnson said.

    While Surterra supports expanding access to medical marijuana, Driscoll said she is less certain about the merits of legalizing the drug for recreational use.

    She said marijuana producers in states like Colorado have focused their energies on the lucrative recreational market, at the expense of developing strains better suited for patients.

    “This is a state that we thought was taking the medical part of it very seriously,” she said. “Whereas a lot of the states are ‘wink-wink’ medical or recreational. And that was something that we were not interested in. We wanted to go where we could really focus on the medical parts about it.”

    Connect with this reporter: @FrankGluck (Twitter)

    How to get medical marijuana in Florida

    Patients may obtain medical marijuana in two types of circumstances: They have seizures or other qualifying illnesses that would benefit from a non-euphoric, low-THC strain such as “Charlotte’s Web.” Or, if they have irreversible “terminal” illnesses, they may obtain full-strength medical marijuana. 

    In either case, the marijuana must be consumed only in a smokeless fashion. Onlystate-approved doctors may order medical marijuana.

    Patients must also have had a face-to-face treatment history with a cannabis-approved physician for at least three months. Patients younger than 18 must obtain a recorded recommendation for marijuana treatment from a second physician.

    For more information, contact the Florida Office of Compassionate Use.

    ****

    As always, we will keep our readers up-to-date, as legal Florida marijuana sales begin here and as the march for marijuana legalization in Florida continues to develop.

  8. Harvard Study Found Cannabis Cuts Tumor Growth In Half

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    Harvard University Finds Cannabis Cuts Tumor Growth in Half in Three Weeks

    A Harvard University study from 2007 which remains the most comprehensive ever released on THC’s potential to combat tumors found that in just three weeks doses of THC were able to cut lung cancer tumor growth in half in mice subjects, and were able to reduce cancer lesions by even more.

    Harvard University researchers tested THC(delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which is found naturally in cannabis) on cancer cells in labs, and followed that up by studying mice subjects.

    The lab demonstration found that doses of THC inhibited growth and spread in the cancer cells; “When the cells are pretreated with THC, they have less EGFR stimulated invasion as measured by various in-vitro assays,” states Anju Preet, PhD, who was one of the researchers for the study.

    Following the lab test, researchers dosed mice – which were implanted with human lung cancer cells – with THC, and found that in just three weeks, tumors were reduced in both size and weight by roughly 50% compared to a control group. According to Preet, cancer lesions on the lungs were also reduced – by nearly 60% – and there was as a significant reduction in “protein markers” associated with cancer progression.

    Researchers predict that THC had such a positive effect on combating tumors because it activates molecules that arrest the cell cycle, and may also interfere with the processes of angiogenesis and vascularization, which lead to cancer growth.

    Over 6 years since its original release, this study remains one of the most important cannabis-related studies ever released.

    ***** (End of Original Article)

    As far as we’re concerned, medical marijuana cannot come soon enough to Florida. Thank goodness it medical marijuana in Florida appears to be on its way.

    For a link to this original article, see here.

    For a link to the original study, click here.

  9. Medical Marijuana in Florida Slowly Moving Forward

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    Until the United for Care Florida marijuana petition passes in November, Floridians can only legally buy medical marijuana in Florida under the two existing Florida marijuana laws. Here is a recent synopsis of the Florida medical marijuana laws and state of the Florida marijuana industry published by Florida regulators:

    Latest Florida Marijuana Law Update from Regulators:

    “The Office of Compassionate Use (OCU) was created by the Florida Department of Health in 2014 as part of its implementation of the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act 2014, signed into law by Governor Rick Scott. The department promulgated Florida Administrative Code Chapter 64-4, which provides a regulatory framework for low- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and medical cannabis in the Florida.

    Florida law permits certain patients to obtain medical cannabis if authorized by a physician who has undergone required training. There are two types of medical cannabis that can be obtained by qualified patients:

    1. Low-THC Cannabis: Patients with cancer or a condition that causes chronic seizures or muscle spasms may qualify to receive low-THC cannabis. Low-THC cannabis has very low amounts of the psychoactive ingredient THC and does not usually produce the “high” commonly associated with cannabis.

    2. Medical Cannabis: If a patient is suffering from a condition that has been determined to be terminal by two physicians, he or she may qualify for medical cannabis. This product can contain sufficient levels of the psychoactive ingredient THC to produce the “high” commonly associated with cannabis.

    The Florida Department of Health has approved six dispensing organizations to cultivate, process and dispense low-THC cannabis, medical cannabis and derivative products to patients. The approved dispensing organizations are:

    Chestnut Hill Tree Farm Alachua County
    Grandiflora (San Felasco Nurseries) Alachua County
    *Trulieve (Hackney Nursery) Gadsden County
    *Surterra Therapeutics (Alpha Foliage, Inc.) Hillsborough County
    *Modern Health Concepts (Costa Nursery Farms) Miami-Dade County
    *Knox Nursery Orange County

    *Dispensing organization has received cultivation authorization.

    A list of doctors permitted to order low-THC and medical cannabis products can be found on the Patients’ information tab. The department recommends speaking to your health care professional to determine if low-THC or medical cannabis products are right for you or your loved one.

    Dispensing organizations have not begun dispensing. As a result, low-THC and medical cannabis products are not currently available for purchase in Florida. The Department anticipates that product will be available to patients by September 2016.

    More Florida Medical Marijuana Information

    For More Information on Florida medical marijuana doctors and licensed Florida marijuana dispensaries, you can search here.

    Listings for Florida marijuana businesses and other Florida cannabis services, can also be found at the Florida Marijuana Directory.