Florida Passes Bill to Allow Telehealth Renewals for Medical Marijuana

10 May 2023 Health Care Law Today Blog
Author(s): Thomas B. Ferrante

On May 4, 2023, the Florida Legislature passed HB 387 expanding the use of telehealth for medical marijuana recertification. Once signed by Florida Governor, Ron Desantis, the new law will become effective July 1, 2023.

The law does not change the existing requirement that a physician must conduct an in-person, physical examination of a patient before issuing an initial certification for the medical use of marijuana - meaning physicians may not issue an initial certification for medical marijuana via a telemedicine exam. After that first in-person exam, however, the new law expressly allows the physician to conduct renewal consultations with the patients remotely using telehealth. Telehealth is defined to include both synchronous and asynchronous telecommunications technology, as those terms are defined under section 456.47, Florida Statutes. These recertification exams are required at least every 30 weeks (210 days).

Allowing patients and providers to use telehealth for medical marijuana recertifications was previously permitted in Florida on a temporary basis under emergency rules put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. HB 387 makes that temporary policy permanent, which expired in June 2020, and allows patients to once again renew their medical marijuana certification by visiting with their physician via a telehealth appointment.

If a physician violates the statutes governing medical marijuana, the new bill authorizes the Department of Health to suspend the non-compliant physician from the medical marijuana use registry for up to two years. Notably, the physician also can be suspended if they provide, advertise, or market telehealth services before the new bill’s effective date of July 1, 2023.

It is also important to note the new Florida law does not immunize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession, or production of marijuana. We will continue to monitor changes to Florida laws and regulations on this issue.

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Foley is here to help you address the short- and long-term impacts in the wake of regulatory changes. For more information on telemedicine, telehealth, virtual care, remote patient monitoring, digital health, and other health innovations, including the team, publications, and representative experience, visit Foley’s Telemedicine & Digital Health Industry Team or our Health Care Practice Group.

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