Fried criticizes DeSantis administration’s new medical marijuana restrictions

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried criticized the new caps on medical marijuana allotments rolled out by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration.
Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 5:00 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried criticized the new caps on medical marijuana allotments rolled out by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration at a press conference Thursday.

“What this governor is doing to this program, to the almost 800,000 patients that are utilizing these products, for literally life saving (measures) in some instances and relief in others, is atrocious,” Fried said.

The new restrictions imposed by the Florida State Health Department’s Emergency Rule 64ER22-8 cap patients at 24,500 milligrams of THC over a 70-day period of non-smokable marijuana. There’s also a limit of 2.5 oz. of smokable marijuana over a 35-day period.

“Medical cannabis is medicine,” Fried said. “It’s medicine that has changed countless lives for the better, which Floridians voted overwhelmingly for and which Americans support in record numbers.”

Dr. Barry Gordon with the Compassionate Cannabis Clinic said the state’s process should have involved discussion with panel of medical professionals and other groups impacted by this new rule.

“It was malfeasance, it was a disgrace, it was an insult to the 740,000 patients and the clinics that are out there operating with integrity,” Gordon said.

Gordon said the new caps disrupt the doctor-patient relationship and hinder their ability to help patients effectively.

“Cannabis can be utilized safely and effectively by the citizens of the State of Florida,” Gordon said, adding that more relaxed caps allow patients and physicians to best experiment with dosages that properly fit medical needs.

Vice President of the Florida Cannabis Action Network, Jodi James, said her groups have been fighting to prevent these very caps for the last three years.

“We tried to teach lawmakers about the endocannabinoid system,” James said. “(We) tried to help them understand that this plant is the equivalent of aspirin.”

James said the new restrictions are causing patients to be denied dosages that they need and criticized the inability of doctors to petition for exceptions on behalf of patients to both the new regulation and a parallel rolling cap on marijuana flower.

“The program and the limits are causing confusion with patients that are already struggling,” James said.

Gov. DeSantis’ press office said they “felt no need to comment” on the new restrictions.