June 2018 - Volume 14 - Issue 12 | Wednesday June 20, 2018

The Subtle Disrespect of the "90 Day Relationship Prior to a Referral Rule"

Dr. Joseph Rosado is clearly emotional when he discusses the patients that he has lost to cancer and other ailments prior to the completion of the 90 day relationship period required by Florida Statute. According to current Florida law, a physician must have a 90 day relationship with a patient before they are allowed to give a referral for low-thc Marijuana. This will be changed with the roll out of Constitutional Amendment 2 which received 71% of the vote on the November 8th, 2016 Ballot and expands the number of illness where Cannabis treatment is permitted. Dr. Rosado is a physician based in Orlando, FL and he is looking forward to the release of the rules related to Amendment 2. He is unclear as to why he is able to prescribe narcotics within five minutes of meeting a patient, but has to wait 90 days before a patient can benefit from the natural healing of the Cannabis plant. He is disturbed by the loss of 25% of his patients before he could offer them comfort and healing in the form of Cannabis. He is determined to spread the word to other physicians and encourages them to start educating themselves with books such as the "Handbook of Cannabis" by Roger G. Pertwee, seminars, and webinars. Similarly, Dr. Michelle Weiner is a strong advocate of the healing properties of Cannabis. She is a physician with five locations in South Florida. She emphasizes that doctors have the responsibility to educate themselves and not rely on dispensaries to tell them which illnesses respond to which variations of Cannabis. She is optimistic that we will begin to see Cannabis Medicine Education being added to the curriculum of medical schools around the country. Dr. Rudy Moise, who is based in Miami, Florida says that he does not like to prescribe narcotics and sees Medical Marijuana as an exit drug. He recognizes the addictive nature and devastating impacts of prescription narcotics. He is looking to reduce patient reliance on opiates, by giving his patients medical marijuana as an option, in appropriate doses. He agrees with Dr. Rosado and Dr. Weiner that it is unfortunate that terminal cancer patients have to wait 90 days for a referral for medical marijuana treatment.

Despite the increased paperwork and the 90 day restriction on their ability to refer, these doctors are committed to being advocates, giving patients the treatment that they deserve, and educating themselves on the dosages for their patients. Dr. Rosado encourages physicians to "start low and go slow" when determining the correct Medical Marijuana dose for patients. I got an opportunity to speak with patient, Heather Joy Russell in his office waiting area. She was looking forward to Amendment 2 Medical Marijuana and describes her experience as a disabled veteran with post traumatic stress disorder. She says that she has been self-medicating for years and without marijuana, she feels like "the Hulk, as if she is going to burst out of her skin". She is not able to eat, sleep, or work due to her rage and anxiety related to PTSD. She starts to cry when she talks about what this new treatment will mean for her life. She has been prescribed 40 narcotics over the years to treat her symptoms and none of them has worked. Medical Marijuana is a life changer for Heather. Dr. Rosado, Dr. Weiner, and Dr. Moise all agree that Medical Marijuana creates a new opportunity for physicians to heal people and change lives. The question that remains to be answered is, if we trust physicians to issue prescriptions for narcotics tied to overdosing fatalities, why don't we trust them to refer patients for medical marijuana treatment, when there have not been any overdosing deaths? This question is being considered by our Florida Senate and House of Representatives Health Quality sub-committees. If a physician is seeking more information on treatment and dosing best practices, they can contact any of the mentioned physicians.

Scheril Murray Powell, Associate at Doumar, Allsworth, Laystrom, Voigt, Wachs, and Adair LLP, General Counsel at Patience with Patients, and General Counsel at Minorities 4 Medical Marijuana, can be reached at smpesquire@outlook.com or (561) 929-4678.

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