A series of public hearings, regarding Amendment 2 implementation, will be held around the state from Monday through Thursday, Feb. 6-9.
The Florida Department of Health (DOH) is sending staff members from the DOH Office of Compassionate Use to five cities. The tour is an effort by the department to fulfill the public-comment requirements.
Anyone can make a comment about the implementation of Amendment 2 through the departments’ online form: http://www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/office-of-compassionate-use/comment-form/index.html.
If you want to ensure that patients have safe, legal access to cannabis, here is your chance to speak at a meeting near you.
When preparing to speak, here are some things to consider, courtesy of the Florida Cannabis Action Network (flcan.net).
1. Know what you’re talking about. Read the proposed rules carefully and look up the references.
The DOH can only implement the laws as written in the Constitution or written in the Florida statutes. Make sure you understand the difference and speak to what DOH can actually do. Here is the full statute as it exists: https://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/2012/images/FS.381.986%20compassionateUse.pdf
2. Don’t try to cover more than one or two items when you speak. Pick your point, have your facts on hand, and make what you say relevant.
3. There will be forms available before the meeting, so please arrive early and fill one out. Your statement becomes part of the official record, and the information you provide is public.
4. Your time will be limited to three minutes or less. If enough people ask to speak, you could get as little as one minute. Get to your point quickly.
5. Don’t waste time introducing yourself; the DOH staff members have your form. Get to your point quickly.
Items to speak out about
1. Changing the definition of “caregiver.” Any close blood relative should be allowed to act as a caregiver without a background check. A Level 1 background check won’t exclude a con artist or a swindler from becoming a caregiver and extorting a patient — unless the rules exempt people convicted of fraud or elder abuse.
2. Don’t force doctors to order specific quantities of medical cannabis. The proposed rules require doctors to “order” specific quantities of cannabis, which is too much like an unlawful prescription and puts doctors at risk under federal law. If doctors don’t participate, patients won’t be able to enroll.
3. Let the doctor make the decision whether medical cannabis is right for the patient. The proposed rules give the Florida Board of Medicine — not the patient’s doctor — the ability to determine whether the patient’s condition is “substantially similar” to those listed in the new constitutional amendment.
4. Ensure that doctors can re-authorize their recommendation every 45 days, and without requiring a subsequent patient visit. Many patients can’t afford to pay a doctor, often out-of-pocket, every 45 days just to stay on the registry.
Times, dates and locations of the five Office of Compassionate Use public hearings
You don’t need to attend to voice your opinion. Anyone can comment through
the DOH’s online form (website shown above).
Feb. 6: 2 p.m.; Duval County Health Dept., 900 University Blvd. N., Jacksonville
Feb. 7: 10 a.m.; Broward County Health Dept., 780 SW 24th St., Fort Lauderdale
Feb. 8: 9 a.m.; Florida Department of Health, Tampa Branch Laboratory, 3602 Spectrum Blvd., Tampa
Feb. 8: 6 p.m.; Orange County Health Dept., 6102 Lake Ellenor Drive, Orlando
Feb. 9: 4 p.m.: Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Room 148, Tallahassee
The Florida Cannabis Action Network’s Legislative Committee is in Tallahassee to influence how medical-cannabis laws are written. For information, call Florida CAN at 321-253-3673 or visit the website, flcan.net. Donations can be sent to Florida CAN, P.O. Box 360653, Melbourne, FL 32936.