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Coronavirus in Florida

Telemedicine extended for medical marijuana, narcotics

Order extended through May 8.

This week, Surgeon General Scott Rivkees extended an emergency order allowing telemedicine to be used for some prescription renewals.

Medical marijuana and narcotics are covered, as they were in March when the first order was issued.

The original order permitted temporarily doctors to use telemedicine only if they are recertifying a patient who has an existing certification issued by the qualified physician.

That order ran out this week.

The extension is in place until May 8.

It reinforces language in the previous order, quoted below.

“For purposes of preparing for, responding to, and mitigating any effect of COVID-19, qualified physicians under section 381.986, Florida Statutes, may issue a physician certification only for an existing qualified patient with an existing certification that was issued by that qualified physician without the need to conduct a physical examination while physically present in the same room as the patient,” the SG’s emergency order asserted, in March.

The order also permits telemedicine for scheduled narcotics: Physicians, osteopathic physicians, physician assistants, and advanced practice registered nurses licensed in Florida that have designated themselves as a controlled substance prescribing practitioner pursuant to section 456.44, may issue a renewal prescription for a controlled substance listed as Schedule II, Schedule III, or Schedule IV under chapter 893 only for an existing patient for the purpose of treating chronic nonmalignant pain without the need to conduct a physical examination.”

Medical cannabis dispensaries are considered by the state to be “essential” businesses, a designation that has allowed industry players to continue selling and dispensing product, albeit with restrictions.

Many shops offer curbside service in an attempt to promote social distancing.

Others emphasize delivery options.

The industry continues to do business as normal otherwise, with “4/20” sales from dispensaries and other promotions showing that, unlike with other industries, medical cannabis continues to be dispensed despite the coronavirus crisis.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at AG@FloridaPolitics.com

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