Doctors Among Concerned Public Commenters At Amendment 2 Meetings

Feb 8, 2017

The Florida Department of Health held workshops across the state this week to get input from the public about how best to implement Amendment 2, which expands the use of medical marijuana.

Florida voters passed it last November, but state officials are still trying to work out regulations.

Of the more than 50 people who spoke at a meeting in Tampa on Wednesday morning, many were doctors.

Some were upset about the 90-day waiting period that makes patients wait for medication. Others lambasted the Office of Compassionate Use for approving only seven growers, which doctors say makes the drug unaffordable to many people.

David Berger, a Tampa pediatrician who runs Family Medical Cannabis Clinic, said he’s concerned the state will allow the Florida Board of Medicine to determine who is eligible for treatment.

“I ask the Florida voters: Did you intend for the doctors and the patients to be the ones to decide?” Berger said to the few dozen audience members behind him.

“Yes!”

“The Florida voters have spoken,” Berger said. “I implore the Department of Health to not put this in the hands of the Board of Medicine and to trust the patient-doctor relationship."

More than 550 doctors in Florida have signed up to recommend patients for medical marijuana.

Other speakers at the hearing included patients currently on medical cannabis, caregivers of patients, and people who could be eligible for treatment if the list of approved diseases was expanded.

Denise Houston, a cancer survivor and caregiver to her husband, lives in New Port Richey, one of several Florida cities that have passed moratoriums to keep medical marijuana dispensaries out until firm regulations are put into place.

She said patients' lives are being put on hold while state, county and city officials find their footing.

"My doctor of 30 years, he supports cannabis use for my husband and he's waiting on what you do,” Houston said. “I attended a city council meeting in my city last night -- they're waiting on what you do."

DOH officials headed to Orlando after the Tampa meeting, and have their last meeting in Tallahassee Thursday. For those who couldn’t make the meetings, public comment is being accepted online here until 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 11.