Which medical conditions qualify for treatment with cannabis products? What other rules and restrictions govern medical use of cannabis (eg, dosage limits)?
To qualify for treatment with medical cannabis, a patient must be diagnosed with one of the following conditions listed in Florida Statute 381.986(2):
- amyotrophic lateral sclerosis;
- post-traumatic stress disorder;
- Crohn’s disease;
- Parkinson’s disease;
- multiple sclerosis;
- “[m]edical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those” listed above, in which case the physician must document the basis for the determination that the patient’s condition is like those enumerated above and that marijuana is an effective treatment for the condition (Florida Statute 381.986(4)(b));
- a terminal condition diagnosed by a physician other than the physician prescribing the medical marijuana—a “terminal condition” is defined as one that:
- “causes significant functional impairment;”
- is not treatable “without the administration of life-sustaining procedures;” and
- will result in death within one year in the normal course (Florida Statute 381.986(1)(o)); or
- “chronic non-malignant pain,” which is defined as pain “caused by a qualifying medical condition or that originates from a qualifying medical condition and persists beyond the usual course of that qualifying medical condition” (Florida Statute 381.986(1)(b)).
A patient with one of these conditions is eligible to receive a physician certification, which will allow them to purchase medical cannabis (Florida Statute 381.986(4)). Before issuing the certification, the physician must:
- conduct a physical exam of the patient;
- review the patient’s medical history; and
- determine that “the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for the patient” (Id.).
If the patient is pregnant, the physician can prescribe only low-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) cannabis (Id.).
A physician may not issue a certification for more than three 70-day supplies of cannabis (Florida Statute 381.986(c)).
What licensing requirements apply for physicians seeking to prescribe cannabis products to patients?
Only qualified physicians can prescribe cannabis. To become a qualified physician, the applicant must hold an active, unrestricted license as an allopathic surgeon or an osteopathic surgeon, and must complete a two-hour course and subsequent examination (Florida Statute 381.986(3)(a)). Further, the applicant cannot be employed by, or have any direct or indirect economic interest in, one of Florida’s cannabis companies or testing laboratories (Florida Statute 381.986(3)(b)).
What licensing requirements apply for pharmacies seeking to dispense cannabis products?
Pharmacies cannot dispense cannabis. The only businesses that can dispense cannabis are licensed medical marijuana treatment centers, which are vertically-integrated companies that cultivate, process, and dispense cannabis. There are currently 14 licensed treatment centers, and each center is allowed to have a baseline of up to 25 dispensaries, with five additional dispensaries added for each 100,000 medical-marijuana patients registered in Florida (Florida Statute 381.986(a)(5)(a)).
How are cannabis products covered by health insurers (both public and private)? Are there any rules or restrictions in this regard?
Health insurers are not required to cover a patient’s use of medical cannabis under the medical cannabis amendment to Florida’s Constitution (Article X, Section 29(c)(7)).
What opportunities are available for cannabis businesses to cooperate with healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies and research institutes in the development of new medical cannabis products? Are there any notable regulatory considerations in this regard?
Florida’s cannabis laws allow cannabis companies to collaborate or contract with other businesses for specific aspects of their operations only. Unless initially licensed under the state’s prior low-THC cannabis statute, medical marijuana treatment centers are specifically prohibited from contracting “for services directly related to the cultivation, processing, or dispensing of marijuana and marijuana delivery devices” (Florida Statute 381.986(8)(e)).