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Pressure Builds on Florida Gov. DeSantis to Toss Out Dosage Limits

Florida patients and their advocates are tired of restrictions on medical marijuana access. On August 29, Florida’s health officials issued new emergency regulations that set clear limits to the legal amount of medical marijuana patients can legally purchase and consume.

Advocates like NORML are concerned, saying that the emergency rules were established behind closed doors—absent of any public input. Further, the rules arrived almost six years after voters initially approved Florida’s constitutional amendment establishing a medical cannabis system.

On September 8, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried blasted the Florida Department of Health (DOH) and its Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU), calling on them to roll back “extreme” dosage restrictions enacted through an emergency rule, a process that afforded less than three days advance notice to doctors and patients and provided no public comment opportunity.

Florida Department of Health’s OMMU website, Emergency Rule 64ER22-8 stipulates that a qualified physician may not issue a certification for more than three 70-day supply limits of cannabis or more than six 35-day supply limits of cannabis in smoking form. The 35-day maximum supply of cannabis in smoking form is 2.5 ounces. The restrictions have been extended to include many other items.

Physicians can, however, request an exception to these limits to accommodate certain patients.

This letter was announced by Commissioner Fried at a Florida Capitol press conference on September 8. Jodi James, Florida Cannabis Action Network (FLCAN), and Dr. Barry Gordon, Compassionate Cannabis Clinic, joined her to talk about why emergency rules should be scrapped and what it could do to medical cannabis patients who need higher levels of THC.

“This rule change is unnecessary, its implementation poorly noticed, and its impacts extremely harmful with hundreds of thousands of patients in Florida no longer able to access their medicine in the quantities they need for efficient treatment as determined by their doctors. This reflects a lack of understanding of medical cannabis by DOH and OMMU at best and is an act of cruelty at worst,” said Commissioner Fried. “We are sending a strong message to the DeSantis Administration to put patients first, protect their access to legal and lifesaving medicine, and roll back these restrictions. I will never stop fighting for our medical cannabis patients and full legalization.”

View the live video from the press conference.

Commissioner Fried sent a public letter to Florida’s Surgeon General, who oversees DOH’s OMMU, and the letter may be downloaded here.

NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano described the newly imposed limits as a “solution in search of a problem.” He said: “These arbitrary and unnecessary limits were established without input from either the patient community or from those physicians who specialize in providing oversight to medical cannabis patients. These limits will lead to unnecessary confusion, and will put undue strain on patients and doctors. Decisions regarding cannabis care ought to be between patients and their physicians; they should not be made by bureaucrats.”

Fried is an independently-elected member of the Florida Cabinet.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida Governor stated that the renewal fee and applications for medical cannabis licenses in the state should be more expensive. State officials “should charge these people more,” DeSantis said.