Questions raised on medical pot report
Panel wants to know why 9% of doctors handle most of state’s marijuana approvals
Florida medical board members, confronted with a state report that details how a relatively small number of doctors have approved most patients to use medical marijuana, are seeking more information about why that is happening.
Members of a joint panel of the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine and the Florida Board of Medicine say they want to better understand the numbers in a 384-page report that tracks the amount of medical marijuana ordered in the state.
“Before we come to any conclusions about providers and the amounts and any other details around why there are outliers, I think we first have to look at the data entry,” said Sandra Schwemmer, an emergency medical physician from Tavernier and chair of the joint panel.
The report shows that 1,487 physicians certified patients for using medical marijuana between Oct. 1, 2018, and Sept. 30.
But 61% of those were done by just 9% of the physicians. In all, 291,865 patients had certifications during the 12 months studied.
The small number of physicians certifying patients has worried members of the panel who fear that medical marijuana could become the state’s next pill-mill crisis.
Before sounding the alarm, though, Schewemmer wants to ensure the information is accurate.
“It’s important to be able to make sure all the physicians are entering (the information) the same way, because some of these outliers may not be outliers,” Schwemmer said.
The report is compiled from data collected from the Medical Marijuana Use Registry maintained by the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use and the state’s medical licensure database.
At a meeting recently in Altamonte Springs, Schwemmer asked the Office of Medical Marijuana Use to meet with the physicians on the joint panel and explain how data is entered into the statewide registry.
The report also showed during a sixmonth period, between March and September, that more than 1.82 million ounces of smokable medical marijuana were ordered for 128,040 patients. That translates to 113,922 pounds, or 57 tons, of flower marijuana.
The maximum amount of smokable marijuana a physician can order for a patient is 2.5 ounces over a 210-day period. The report