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Bill to tighten medical marijuana production safety, doctor requirements passes subcommittee

A bill that would tighten safety and security measures for the production of medical marijuana plus limit the medical specialties of the doctors allowed to prescribe it was approved Tuesday by a House subcommittee.

The Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee voted 12-0, with no one voicing opposition, to move House Bill 1313 forward.

The bill would tighten requirements for Florida’s budding limited medical marijuana program, setting restrictions on security, quality control and liability in production and distribution.

Florida’s law was approved in 2014 and is only now moving forward with licensed growers preparing to grow cannabis. That law allows low-THC cannabis to be processed into medicines that can be offered to people with cancer, epilepsy and other afflictions that might cause uncontrollable seizures or tremors.

The current law also creates an avenue for Florida doctors to become registered to authorize that their patients use the marijuana-derived medicines. Yet that program has few restrictions on what kinds of doctors can do so. HB 1313, sponsored by GOP state Rep. Jason Brodeur of Sanford sets limits and requires that minors’ approvals be given by two doctors, instead of just one.

“The intent is to limit recommending to those that are actually treating cancer, seizure and spasm conditions,” Brodeur said later.

Specifically, the bill would require that approved doctors be board-certified as an oncologist, neurologist, or epileptologist or specialize in the treatment of cancer, epilepsy, or physical medical conditions that chronically produce symptoms of seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms.

So far, just over 100 doctors have signed up statewide to participate in the program. Though it’s unclear how many specialize in the sanctioned illnesses, few of those who signed up have certifications in the authorized specialties. A spot check of 20 approved physicians found three neurologists and one oncologist, along with anesthesiologists, gynecologists, an ophthalmologist, and general practitioners.

Under the bill, doctors also must have treated the patient for cancer or a physical medical condition that chronically produces symptoms of seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms for at least six months.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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