A pair of bills introduced in the Florida Senate and House would permit telemedicine for medical cannabis patients starting July 1, 2022, according to a Florida Politics report.
Introduced by Republicans Sen. Jeff Brandes and Rep. Jayer Williamson, the two pieces of legislation would put into statute a practice already proven successful during the coronavirus pandemic. Medical cannabis telemedicine was allowed on an emergency basis by former Surgeon General Scott Rivkees but is not officially enshrined in Florida law, according to the report.
“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.” – Scott Rivkees in an emergency declaration, via Florida Politics
Senate Bill 164 and its House companion will still require patients to see a doctor in person for an initial visit, but subsequent visits could be conducted via a telemedicine portal. Florida requires yearly recertification for medical cannabis patients but an additional doctor’s visit for re-assessment is required at the seven months point.
Although telemedicine has worked during the pandemic, both the Senate and House bills have an uphill climb before they are signed into law. The Senate version has three committees to work through while the House version faces similar challenges.
These are not the only telemedicine bills in the Florida legislature but the conditions have medical cannabis lobbyist Ron Watson worried. He told Florida Politics that he thinks it will take “some work to get it passed.”
“A stand-alone bill has a long way to go in this environment,” he said in the report.
It is unclear where Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) stands on the issue — however, he has done little to hamper the industry, allowing smokable cannabis early in his term and later not signing on to a bill that sought to limit THC levels.
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