Medical Cannabis Physicians in Florida: No Knowledge or Experience Required?

Jan 4, 2018

I just finished the renewal certification course that Florida physicians are required to complete to be “qualified” to certify patients to use medical cannabis. The course and examination now cover only two (2) hours of material, reduced from the eight (8) hour course I was required to take last year before the new laws under Amendment 2 and SB-8A were passed. I was curious to see how the revised course would incorporate the new rules and regulations (including the hurdles and hoops), which my patients and I have had to jump through this past year.

How Does the New Certification Course Match Up to Last Year?

The original certification course went into great detail about the science behind medical cannabis and the different medical conditions it might help. I was pleased to see that the State saw the value in testing physicians on this material. However, the revised course contained none of this critical information. The new two-hour course was entirely about the Florida Laws and the myriad of requirements that must be met by the physician and patient.

As I sifted through page after page of the course, I was instructed on such obvious things as how to change my password on the Florida Medical Marijuana Use Registry website, and where to click to enter each line of patient data. At least now I know how to change my password!

Although it does a very good job explaining the laws and what qualifies a patient, it amazes me that Florida is allowing physicians to recommend medical cannabis to patients with absolutely no knowledge of the various types of medical cannabis (low-THC/CBD vs THC-containing cannabis), the difference between sativa, indica, and hybrid strains; or the various methods of ingesting the medicine and when each may be more desirable.  Furthermore, Florida law does not require physicians to provide any dosing or product information to the patient. In my opinion, it should not be left to the patient to figure out dosing. This is similar to me diagnosing a patient with pneumonia, and then having the patient swing by the pharmacy for an antibiotic without telling them which one to get or how much to take!

I offer all patients the opportunity to consult with me on dosing and administering medical cannabis. Some patients do not need much guidance because they have lived in states where they were already successfully using medical cannabis or have extensively used cannabis outside of the legal system. For this reason, I offer different length appointments to meet the various needs of my patients.

With the help of legal consultants, I continually monitor Florida law to ensure my patients and I are in compliance. As a result of my being proactive, there wasn’t a single question on the State’s certification test for which I did not already know the answer before reviewing the course material. This is unfortunate because I would have liked to have learned something during the two hours I spent reviewing the course material. I am grateful, though, that after twenty years practicing medicine I am finally being given the opportunity to treat patients with this amazing medical herb, which has helped more people improve the quality of their life than any other treatment that I have utilized the last 20 years!

In case you were wondering, I passed the test! 🙂

Wholistic ReLeaf (formally Family Medical Cannabis Clinic) and Wholistic Pediatric and Family Care have been treating patients with medical cannabis since 2016. As the Tampa Bay area’s leading authority on medical cannabis treatment and one of the nation’s most experienced pediatricians treating with medical cannabis, Dr. David Berger is committed to first understanding his patients’ needs. He then customizes a medical cannabis treatment plan that will produce the most effective results. For more information about medical cannabis treatment in Florida, please visit our website by clicking here. Existing patients may also contact the clinic directly through their patient portal.