Statement on OCU Director’s Comments On January 11, 2017

Ending weeks of silence on the state implementation of Amendment 2, Office Of Compassionate Use Director Christian Bax spoke to reporters after testifying at the House Health Quality Subcommittee today in Tallahassee.

“Should any patient establish a relationship with a physician for 90 days, the 90 days is a restriction on the timeline for which a physician can create an order. So a physician can create an order once that 90 days has happened. At that point, or any time in the future, the physician can create an order for cannabis”.

When questioned if the patient could get the order filled and receive their medication, Bax responded, “Yes.”

Bax further suggested practitioners should follow both the current law as well as the newly implemented Amendment 2 language, which expands the qualifying conditions for which a physician may recommend marijuana.

“It’s the department’s position that the registered, ordering physician is responsible for following the constitutional amendment (and) Florida statute for diagnosing patients and then for determining if that patient should receive medical cannabis,” Bax said. “And as far as enforcement for physicians, for patients, for businesses, any enforcement action initiated by the department is going to focus on those who are operating outside the regulatory framework and Florida law.”

Since opening on January 3, the Compassionate Cannabis Clinic of Venice has seen 92 patients with 255 appointments scheduled until the beginning of February.

Dr. Barry Gordon, the clinic’s owner, has issued the following statement:

“The scope of patients we have seen has been incredible. In my 35 year career, I have never felt such a solemn responsibility as a medical practitioner. Each person I’ve had the great privilege to meet inspires me as an individual and I am bound by duty to fight for a better option for their care, an option marijuana provides that exceeds the ultimate test in medicine – to do no harm to the patient.

I would like to sincerely thank Director Bax, on behalf of patients and practitioners alike for ending a bit of the ambiguity and speculation about Florida’s new climate. While politicians are tasked with drafting the regulation behind the spirit of Amendment 2, physicians should have the right to utilize their own professional discretion to treat their patients. Some people simply don’t have 9 months of time left to wait for the full program to be implemented.”

During the months it will likely take to craft the full legislation for Florida’s expanded medical marijuana program, the Compassionate Cannabis Clinic of Venice continues to consult with their team of attorneys from Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP in Sarasota.

“Our duty to the qualified patient is not just to ensure they receive their recommendation, but also that we as a business don’t operate in a way that would cause them to lose their certification,” says Executive Director Patrick DeLuca. “In consulting with our attorneys, public officials, and the Board of Health, we’ve been assured we are operating completely within compliance with state law. Until we get some concrete direction from Tallahassee we will continue to operate with an overabundance of caution, but we make it clear to all of our established patients that as soon as the state allows Dr. Gordon to order a recommendation for medical marijuana, we will do so”.

Dr. Gordon has also issued a plea to legislators to read the material contained within the Florida Medical Association’s certification course physicians must take and pass in order to be legally able to recommend marijuana to patients.

“Everyone in a position of power should have to take the course,” says Dr. Gordon. “It’s based on science and clinical study and can help to dispel some of the purposeful mistruths about this ancient medicine of which has benefits too numerous to list. Without any drug-drug interactions and a therapeutic index of infinity (no known overdoses or deaths), marijuana has the opportunity to bring a better quality of life to millions suffering from chronic and debilitating illness.”

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