“The state is overriding the professional judgment of doctors and endangering the health of patients.”

By Danielle Brown, Florida Phoenix

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D) is urging Florida health officials to roll back an emergency rule that creates new restrictions on medical marijuana doses—a big issue for more than 700,000 patients that use medical marijuana.

“The rule change is unnecessary, its implementation poorly notified, 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 effective treatment as determined by their doctors,” Fried said Thursday at a press conference at the state Capitol.

Fried was a marijuana lobbyist before becoming Florida’s agriculture commissioner, and her agency includes state consumer protection.

The Florida Department of Health on August 26 issued an emergency rule that creates limits on dose amounts in various forms of medical marijuana, state documents show. The rule went into effect the following Monday.

The rule states that “a qualified physician may not issue a physician certification for more than three 70-day supply limits of marijuana or more than six 35-day supply limits of marijuana in a form for smoking.”

It continues to note that “a 35-day supply limit for marijuana in a form for smoking shall not exceed 2.5 ounces,” and provides a list of dose limits depending on administration route, such as edible forms, inhalation or topical.

Part of Fried’s concerns come from the health department’s process, which she believes has been circumvented.

Typically, when a rule is proposed, there’s time for public comment. “They didn’t want the comments. They didn’t want that period of time,” Fried said.

Fried also provided a letter to Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo on Thursday, saying, “Three days’ notice is not just thoughtless, it’s irresponsible. It has caused chaos, confusion, and rightful panic among patients and providers.”

“By limiting patients to purchasing only a maximum of 24,500 milligrams of THC over a 70-day period and a limit of 2.5 ounces of smokable cannabis in a 35-day period, the state is overriding the professional judgment of doctors and endangering the health of patients,” Fried continued.

“Many patients require the ability to purchase a higher dosage in multiple forms in order to test combinations and find the best balance to treat their particular condition in consultation with their doctor. The state has no business inserting itself into nuanced decisions being made between patients and their health care providers,” Fried’s letter said.

The Phoenix asked for comment from the Florida Department of Health, but staff has not yet responded.

This story was first published by Florida Phoenix.

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