The medical cannabis industry continues to push forward across the United States, and here in Florida, we are at the forefront of legislation. In January alone, legislators have introduced two key pieces of legislation that will affect the medical cannabis landscape here in our home state. 

Cannabis has been legalized in the state for medical use since 2016, when Florida voters approved Amendment 2 with an overwhelming 71% “yes” vote. Individuals with qualifying conditions can currently access medical cannabis treatment by acquiring an MMP card and obtaining a recommendation from a licensed physician. 

Florida Bill to Decrease Required Doctor’s Visits 

According to a report, Florida Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) has introduced legislation to reduce doctor visits for the state’s registered medical cannabis patient. Currently, patients must visit their physician twice per year to keep their medical cannabis qualification status in the state’s registry. The bill, S.B. 214, would allow patients to visit their doctor only once per year without losing any benefits. Also, disabled veterans would only be required to see a state-certified medical cannabis physician once every other year.

The legislation also increases the amount of cannabis that a doctor can recommend at a single visit. At the moment, doctors can recommend up to a seven month supply. The legislation will allow a recommendation for a cannabis supply of up to 350 days. Advocates applaud the move, stating that patients are often sick, disabled, and unable to visit a doctor easily. This bill would relieve some of that pressure and make in-person visits less of a burden for those who most need cannabis treatment. 

Florida Lawmakers Seek to Protect Cannabis Users

Because we are still essentially in the infancy of legalized medical cannabis, it is not uncommon for some individuals to harbor misunderstandings regarding the treatment. Employers used to a “drug-free workplace” can be opposed to the idea of medical marijuana, categorizing it as “drug use.” This has made life difficult for many patients who have faced being suspended, demoted, or fined at their jobs, even though they legally and legitimately are using the substance to treat an illness. 

The local news station reported on January 26 that Florida Sen. Tina Polsky had proposed legislation – along with Rep. Nicholas Duran – to protect public employees who use medical cannabis from firing, demotion, or suspension. According to the bill, employees who test positive for cannabis cannot be penalized for their use as long as they are enrolled in the state’s medical cannabis program. 

Employers would still be allowed to take action against those who use medical cannabis while on the job. Employees can still be fired, demoted or suspended for poor job performance due to cannabis use while on the clock. 

Therefore, the bill prevents employers from taking punitive action against those who test positive in random drug tests; but allows employers to expect the required level of performance in the workplace. The bill represents the second time that Polsky has introduced this legislation to protect private employees enrolled in Florida’s medical cannabis program; however, in 2020, the bill did not make it to the floor. 

Both of these bills take positive steps to further propel medical cannabis into the mainstream – making access less restrictive and its usage more accepted throughout all levels of society.  

If you are considering medical cannabis as an alternative to traditional pharmaceutical treatments, call Dr. Daniel P. Stein at Neurology of Cannabis today. Dr. Stein is a renowned expert in medical cannabis treatment for a wide variety of conditions and is available to speak with new patients. Call 941-200-3412.