Agriculture Commissioner Fried Criticizes Florida, Health Officials Over Medical Cannabis Restrictions

September 8, 2022

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried urges Florida health officials to roll back an emergency rule that creates new restrictions on medical marijuana doses – a big deal for more than 700,000 patients who use marijuana for medical purposes.

“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 medications in the amounts 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 commissioner of agriculture, and her agency includes state consumer protection.

The Florida Department of Health released an emergency rule Aug. 26 that creates limits on doses of various forms of medical marijuana, according to state documents. The rule went into effect the following Monday.

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

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

Part of Fried’s concern stems from the health department’s process, which she says was circumvented.

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

Fried also provided a letter Thursday to Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo saying, “Three days notice is not only thoughtless, it is irresponsible. This has caused chaos, confusion and legitimate panic among patients and providers.

“By limiting patients to purchase a maximum of 24,500 milligrams of THC in a 70-day period and a limit of 2.5 ounces of smoking cannabis in a 35-day period, the state overrides the professional judgment of physicians and endangers the health of patients,” continued Fried.

“Many patients need the ability to purchase a higher dose in multiple forms in order to test combinations and find the best balance to treat their particular condition in consultation with their physician. The condition does not have to fit into nuanced decisions made between patients and their healthcare providers,” Fried’s letter said.

The Phoenix has asked the Florida Department of Health for comment, but staff have yet to respond.

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