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Monday, September 26, 2022

The state sets rules for caregivers of medical marijuana patients

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(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

If you are a caregiver for an elderly parent in Florida, you will be able to obtain prescription medications and give them to your mother or father as per a doctor’s order. It will also allow you to discuss their medical conditions and treatments with your health care providers.

A caregiver, according to state law, is a person who is “entrusted with or has assumed responsibility for the care or property of an elderly or disabled adult.” “Caregiver” includes, but is not limited to, court-appointed relatives or guardians, volunteer guardians, adult family members, neighbors, and carers health care and so on.

In other words, many adults – 18 or older – can consider themselves caregivers, and the state does not require them to undergo training or obtain any certifications to “assign” them this responsibility.

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But when it comes to supervising the health care of the person being treated medical marijuanaEven Your Child Florida takes a stricter approach to the caregiver-patient relationship. The Florida Department of Health has issued rules about who can and who cannot provide care for medical marijuana patients.

Says Donna Sachs, Certified Nursing Assistant and Controller Manager at Compassionate Cannabis Clinic, one of the largest medical marijuana treatments facilities in Florida.

This is just for beginners.

Founded by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Barry Gordon, Compassionate Cannabis Clinic has served more than 5,000 patients at its Venice and Fort Myers office locations. Dr. Gordon is a leading advocate of educating patients and caregivers about all things medical cannabis, including the endocannabinoid system.

Caregivers, he says, “need as much, if not more, education from the patient themselves in order to achieve success in the program.”

While Dr. Gordon sees value in managing providers of medical marijuana patients as Florida does, he says Department of Health rules do not guarantee the blanket introduction of cannabis as a drug.

“Even in testing caregivers, there is nothing that discusses the endocannabinoid system or a caregiver’s knowledge of cannabis,” he says, referring to the “caregiver certification course” that the Department of Health requires caregivers to complete.

To become a registered caregiver for a medical marijuana patient (only one caregiver per patient, with some exceptions, such as parents or guardians of a minor), you must be at least 21 years old, reside in the state and fill in Application With the Department of Health’s office for medical marijuana use. Applicants who are not a close relative of the patient must pass a background check.

The rules also state, “The caregiver must not be a qualified physician and not be an employee or have an economic interest in a medical marijuana treatment center or marijuana testing laboratory.”

“Because that’s a conflict of interest,” Sachs explains.

Dr. Gordon says that one of the biggest challenges for caregivers is “product availability and consistency” by a qualified physician recommended to the patient. “They want to be able to have the same product every time. Percocet is the same as Percocet whether at CVS pharmacy or Walgreens, but that’s not the case for the cannabis variety. It’s a plant.”

One possible solution to this problem would be to allow private cultivation of the cannabis plant. Some states already do this, but not Florida. However, a proposed state constitutional amendment seeks to change that as well as making marijuana use and possession legal for adults 21 or older. The initiative, which could be rolled out before voters in November 2022, would allow “nine plants of live marijuana to be grown per adult with a maximum of eighteen plants per household.”

When a product is not available in the dispensary, what is recommended for replacement may have a different effect on the patient. Sachse says she gets a lot of calls from caregivers and patients worried about having to switch medical marijuana drugs due to a shortage of stock.

At a different but relevant point for caregivers, Dr. Gordon says he wants to see job protection for health care workers, including first responders, who use medical cannabis to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He says the COVID-19 pandemic has forced health care workers to care for too many patients at once and to comfort many of them in the hours of their death because family members were not allowed to be at their bedside.

“No health care worker is prepared for that,” he says. “They don’t want alcohol, Ambien, Xanax, Wellbutrin or Prozac to help them. Many of our healthcare workers will carry this time period with them for a long time. They are already using cannabis because they don’t want the other substances.”

visit https://bit.ly/3Bub12k Watch MMERI talks on the virtual Cannabis forum featuring Dr. Barry Gordon, chief medical officer and founder of Compassionate Cannabis Clinic, and Donna Sachse, certified nursing assistant and managing director of Compassionate Cannabis Clinic, on YouTube.

For more information about medical marijuana and to sign up for the MMERI newsletter, go to http://mmeri.famu.edu.

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