Can Florida MMJ Patients Use Medical Marijuana in Hospitals?

Medical marijuana became legal in the state of Florida on November 8th, 2016 when 71% of voters helped pass Florida’s Amendment 2. As a result, the number of medical marijuana patients in hospitals has increased. Hospitals are challenged with updating their policies and procedures regarding the delivery, usage, and storage of medical marijuana within their facilities.1 Can Florida patients use medical marijuana in hospitals? Read on to learn more about this rapidly changing subject.

Medical Marijuana (MMJ) is used to treat a number of qualifying conditions. Those explicitly defined in Florida’s medical marijuana law are cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, seizures, Crohn’s disease, chronic muscle spasms, PTSD, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. There are many additional qualifying conditions covered by this law. You can find out if you pre-qualify for a recommendation in just two steps! First, Take our eligibility survey. Once qualified for an in-person exam,  you’ll receive scheduling instructions to see one of our Florida Medical Marijuana Doctors. Completing the survey takes only 5 minutes. Find out if you pre-qualify for a medical marijuana recommendation today!

Why Hospitals Need MMJ Policies

Marijuana in any form is still considered an illicit drug under federal law. While we have yet to see a hospital prosecuted for allowing medical marijuana to be used on premises, hospitals need to outline their policies and procedures around this challenging topic. Should hospitals limit federal liabilities for themselves or work to ensure all patients follow the right course of treatment? Finding a balance to that question is a real conundrum in healthcare. Still, policies and procedures must be written and followed to minimize the confusion that could be faced by staff and patients alike. Hospital staff need direction to properly care for those who rely on medical marijuana for the successful treatment of their symptoms. Ultimately, both inpatients and caregivers need realistic expectations for the proper use of medical marijuana within hospitals.1

Current Florida Regulations 

An inpatient medical marijuana policy would help hospitals answer questions about which patients should have the right to receive medical marijuana as treatment while hospitalized, where the substance should be stored, who will administer it, and how treatments should be documented.2 Some states, facilities, or regions are creating those policies.3 In 2014, a law was passed in Minnesota to allow medical marijuana use in its hospitals, though only two hospitals accommodate MMJ patients – HCMC and the Mayo Clinic.4 As of now, there is no such law in Florida. On the contrary, The Florida Department of Health drafted a set of rules on January 17th, 2017 which regulate the use of medical marijuana, including section g.3.b., which restricts the use of medical marijuana “in any public place.”5

Hospitals Face Challenges

“Because they are accredited through the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, hospitals could be found to be in violation, lose federal funding, and face penalties. Clinicians are also prohibited from prescribing or providing the drug in a hospital because it is not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”6 Still, hospitals are pressured to create policies to regulate the use of medical marijuana. As there is no centralized supplier of cannabis products, hospitals are being asked to allow patients to supply their own. Hospitals are also governed by what is known as “The Joint Commission Standard” in which policy MM.03.01.05 states, “The hospital safely controls medications brought into the hospital by patients, their families, or licensed independent practitioners.” While some hospitals have attempted to draft policies that would potentially allow for the safe use of medical marijuana on premises, the bottom line is that it is difficult to identify cannabis products, their integrity, or to permit a drug that is federally illegal.

Forming New Policies

A new medical marijuana program is being developed in the state of Florida. It specifically protects physicians from civil and criminal sanctions and liability, as long as they can prove their patients’ use of the drug falls  within a practical standard of care. Furthermore, “the federal government has indicated that prosecution for medical marijuana use is not a federal priority and that it will not use its resources to interfere with state medical marijuana programs.”1 Still, Florida employers have a right to a drug-free workplace, and that includes hospital employers. 

According to Rebecca Greenfield of Cannabis News, the hope is that workgroups mobilize to formulate a plan for updating their policies around medical marijuana use in Florida hospitals. Greenfield says the workgroups should be comprised of “not only the board of directors and senior management decision-makers but also representatives from the emergency department, specialty departments, research departments, and other medical units. Physicians and nurses across medical specialties, addiction specialists, pharmacists, and mental health professionals should also be included in the conversation. Additionally, the hospital should also consider inviting outside parties, including legal counsel, consultants, and representatives from local and state professional boards to the workgroup.”1 

These workgroups will need to address questions about what forms of marijuana and its administration should be allowed, what types of patients should be allowed to use it (inpatient vs. outpatient), what location(s) within the hospital can patients use it, where the marijuana will be stored, and more. Additionally, the workgroups must outline policies and procedures to ensure hospital practitioners and staff comply with all the above. To protect the hospital and its patients, there must be a system of accountability to ensure compliance with state and federal laws to minimize liability. Until then, Florida medical marijuana patients should avoid attempting to use marijuana products inside of hospital facilities.1

Is Medical Marijuana Right for Me?

Whether medical marijuana will help your condition depends on many factors best evaluated by a medical doctor. If you feel you may benefit from medical marijuana, the first step is to take our eligibility survey. In just 5 minutes, you could pre-qualify for a Florida medical marijuana recommendation. A Florida Marijuana Marijuana Doctor can then determine if you qualify during an in-person exam. For more information, visit https://docmj.com.

  1. https://southfloridahospitalnews.com/page/Medical_Marijuana_in_the_Hospital_Setting_Are_You_Ready/11725/46/
  2. https://acphospitalist.org/archives/2017/01/marijuana-policies-hospital.htm
  3. https://www.psqh.com/analysis/qa-legal-marijuana-use-in-hospitals/
  4. https://www.the-hospitalist.org/hospitalist/article/197573/mixed-topics
  5. https://www.floridahealthcareattorney.com/2017/03/medical-marijuana-licensed-healthcare-professionals/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5345918/