During the 2014 session, the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 1030, entitled the “Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014.” The bill was signed into law by Governor Rick Scott on June 16, 2014.
The Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 directs the Florida Department of Health to establish an Office of Compassionate Use (OCU) under the Deputy Secretary for Health, to implement and manage the various aspects of the program. Responsibilities of the OCU include the following:
- Establishing a secure, electronic, and online compassionate use registry for the registration of physicians and patients that will also be accessible to law enforcement.
- Authorizing the establishment of five dispensing organizations to ensure reasonable statewide accessibility and availability necessary for patients registered in the compassionate use registry. These five dispensaries are to be located in the Northeast, Northwest, Central, Southeast, and Southwest regions of the state.
- Creating a network of state universities and medical centers to enhance access to investigational new drugs for Florida patients through approved clinical treatment plans or studies.
- Adopting rules necessary to implement the law.
The Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 also includes the following provisions:
- Specifies that one of the following conditions must exist in order for a physician to order low-THC for their patient:
- Cancer or a physical medical condition that chronically produces symptoms of seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms that can be treated with low-THC cannabis, or
- Symptoms of cancer or a physical medical condition that chronically produces symptoms of seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms that can be alleviated with low-THC cannabis.
- Physicians licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459 may order low-THC cannabis for qualified patients if no other satisfactory alternative treatment options exist for that patient and requires that all conditions listed must apply (see full text of the law for details on conditions).
- The patient is a permanent resident of the state.
- The physician determines that the risks of ordering low-THC cannabis are reasonable in light of the potential benefit for that patient.
The Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 (Senate Bill 1030)