Medical Marijuana MD: What Qualifications Does a Dr. Need?
In the state of Florida, a medical marijuana MD must have very specific qualifications. This is part of the legislation that went into approving medical marijuana use in the state. Without these specialty-trained doctors, medical marijuana would not be available. But what kind of qualifications does a medical marijuana MD need? Couldn’t any doctor become a medical cannabis doctor? I went looking for information and here’s what I found…
Medical Marijuana Doctors in Florida
So, what separates a medical marijuana doctor from any other doctor in Florida?
The separating difference between your general family doctor and a doctor who is permitted to order low-THC cannabis for their patients is all down to licensing and training.
Firstly, before a physician can qualify to evaluate a patient for medical marijuana use, they must have an active medical license as a physician that is UNRESTRICTED under Chapter 458, F.S., or they must have an UNRESTRICTED license as an osteopathic physician under Chapter 459, F.S.
What is a Restricted Medical License?
A restricted medical license is…well, a medical license that puts restrictions on the doctor covered by that license. Perhaps an example might be better…
A licensed military physician in Florida may have a restricted license to practice which limits them to practicing medicine in military installations.
There are many types of restrictions that can be put on a medical license.
Geographical Restrictions — Restrictions on where a physician can practice. In the example above the military physician is limited by a “geographical restriction”.
Disciplinary Restrictions — Restrictions on a physician’s ability to practice medicine as a result of disciplinary action that has been taken against them. For example, a physician with a drug problem may have to undergo regular drug screenings, undergo appropriate treatment and counseling, and have other limitations placed on their practice of medicine if they wish to keep their medical license.
Failure to Renew License — Restrictions may also be placed on a doctor’s license because they failed to renew their medical license on time.
A doctor who has any of these situations in play is forbidden from being certified to prescribe medical marijuana to their patients.
The Educational Requirement
The second important step for a doctor who wants to prescribe medical marijuana is an educational course. The course is presented by the Florida Medical Association and the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association. It is designed to familiarize physicians with all relevant rules and laws that apply to physicians who will be certifying patients for medical marijuana eligibility.
In order to be a certified medical marijuana doctor in Florida, a physician must take and pass this course and pass the exam that follows the class. The cost of the course is $250 and it takes approximately two hours to complete.
Once they have taken the exam and passed the class, a physician is certified as a state-registered medical cannabis doctor. This registration is only valid for the length of a doctor’s licensure term or every two years. When licensure runs out, a doctor must once again take the educational course and pass the exam to be eligible to assess patients for medicinal cannabis use.
Once a doctor has been certified for the assessment of patients for medical marijuana, their name is entered into the state registry of doctors who have fulfilled the necessary requirements and are approved by the state as a “medical marijuana doctor”.
Why Should You Care?
So…why should you care about all this if you’re someone looking to begin medicinal cannabis use?
Most importantly, because it’s the law. Breaking state laws regarding medicinal marijuana use can only result in the banning of use altogether.
Additionally, though, you need to know who your doctor is and you need to have confidence in the fact that they know what they are doing. Yes, you can look at their medical license, but when it comes to cannabis, there are some very important aspects of care that any prescribing physician should be familiar with.
- Of course, your doctor must be familiar with all laws and regulations regarding use so that they do not break the law and they do not enable you to break the law either.
- You also need a doctor who has confidence in the treatment ability of cannabis and an understanding of when cannabis may exacerbate rather than assist a patient.
Is Your Doctor Certified?
As a medicinal marijuana patient myself, I can’t say enough about how important it is to have a licensed and fully trained doctor who understands cannabis treatment. I’d recommend Dr. Tirmal, The Medical Marijuana Dr if you are in or around the Cape Coral area.