Ques­tions raised on med­i­cal pot re­port

Panel wants to know why 9% of doc­tors han­dle most of state’s mar­i­juana ap­provals

Orlando Sentinel - - BUSINESS - By Chris­tine Sex­ton

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

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