TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — New legislation would save Florida medical marijuana patients the burden of visiting a doctor twice a year to maintain their status in the state's patient registry, a step industry advocates say is long overdue.

What You Need To Know

  • Currently, medical marijuana patients in Florida must be examined twice a year

  • New bill would reduce requirement to once a year

  • The measure would also increase the maximum supply of cannabis that doctors can prescribe

Under SB 214 by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg), patients would need only be examined annually by a state-certified medical marijuana physician. Disabled veterans would only be subject to biennial exams.

"Some folks are very, very home-bound and bedridden and some folks are terminally ill, and this is just to provide them with more comfort, knowing that they're going to have their medicine, there won't be any hiccups, there won't be any hurdles to cross should there be an overlap in time," said Taylor Biehl, a Tallahassee lobbyist who co-founded the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida.

The measure would also increase the maximum supply of cannabis that doctors can prescribe, to 350 days, up from the current seven months.

It could encounter resistance from conservative Republicans. On the heels of voter legalization of medical marijuana in 2016, Florida's Republican-controlled legislature passed the current restrictions, which top House lawmakers said were necessary to tightly control the distribution and use of cannabis, a drug that remains federally illegal.

But instances of marijuana abuse since then have been scant, making supporters of the new bill optimistic about its chances during the 2021 legislative session.

"You don't know what you don't know until you have time to let it play out and unfold," Biehl said.