New Year: New Prescribing Laws Take Effect

Two new prescribing laws took effect this month that physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners should be familiar with.

Effective Jan. 1, advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs) and physician assistants (PAs) are allowed to prescribe, order, and administer controlled substances, subject to certain protocols. This came with the passage of HB 423, which was signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott last year.

ARNPs and PAs practicing in Florida must apply for DEA registration to prescribe controlled substances.

The other new law, which came with the passage of Amendment 2 in November, legalizes the use of marijuana to treat certain medical conditions.

The law took effect on Jan. 3, however, the Florida Department of Health has not yet promulgated rules to Amendment 2 and has six months to do so. The department has nine months to implement the regulations.

Nearly 400 Florida physicians are registered with the state as prescribers for medical marijuana. And, many more are expected to add their names to the list. In fact, a quick look at the list finds that more than 75 physicians were added in December alone.

A limited number of physicians have been prescribing a low THC form of medical marijuana since 2014 when Gov. Rick Scott signed the Compassionate Medical Use Act – also known as Charlotte’s Web – for epileptic and terminally ill patients.

Physicians who want to prescribe must complete a special course and pass a test.

Florida law permits qualified physicians to order low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis for patients diagnosed with certain conditions. There are two types of cannabis products that may be ordered by qualified physicians:

  1. Low-THC Cannabis: Patients with cancer or a condition that causes chronic seizures or muscle spasms may qualify to receive low-THC cannabis. Low-THC cannabis has very low amounts of the psychoactive ingredient THC and does not usually produce the “high†commonly associated with cannabis.
  1. Medical Cannabis: If a patient is suffering from a condition determined to be terminal by two physicians, he or she may qualify for medical cannabis. This product can contain significant levels of the psychoactive ingredient THC and may produce the “high†commonly associated with cannabis.

Amendment 2 requires patients to have a three-month doctor-patient relationship with the physician who is prescribing the drug, and that doctor must be licensed by the state. The Department of Health is responsible for regulating how medical marijuana can be distributed, along with requiring identification cards for patients and caregivers.

The Health Law Offices of Anthony C. Vitale can assist clients with the regulatory licensing and application process associated with manufacturing, dispensing and distributing of medical marijuana. We also can help ARNPs and Nurse Practitioners to navigate the rules and regulations associated with the Controlled Substances Act. Feel free to contact us for additional information at 305-358-4500 or send us an email to and let’s discuss how we might be able to assist you.

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The Health Law Offices of Anthony C. Vitale