Officials sign deal to outsource medical marijuana ID cards
As soon as medical marijuana became legal in Florida, it became epicenter of various controversies, legal battles and misconceptions. It was not unprecedented development as marijuana has always been a controversial herb, being legal or otherwise. The legalization of marijuana in Florida brought hope for many patients, especially for people suffering from terminal ailments. But it was decreed that there should be a 90 days window during which doctor should assess whether patient needs medical marijuana or not. Then the delay of issuing licences by the authorities added to the miseries of patients who were ready to use this alternate treatment for their illnesses.
Recently, outsourcing of medical marijuana identification card has created quite a stir and the mechanism of contract awarded, has come under protest according to health officials. According to reports, Office of Medical Marijuana Use has signed a contract with Veritec Solutions LLC.
An administrative protest has been lodged by Automated Health Systems against the move. However, Surgeon General Celeste Phillip has awarded the contract without delay to avoid endangering public health unnecessarily.
Department of Health has deemed qualified patients’ predicament more important than the reason of the protest and decided to move ahead with the contract signing despite the case being filed against it. Orders handed out by Phillip allow Veritec to produce ID cards while the case is in courts. Furthermore, according to Florida Division of Administrative Hearings, the case lodged by Automated Health System against Department of Health has not yet been assigned to an administrative judge and the hearing may not be possible until mid-December.
Christian Bax, Executive Director of the Office of Medical Marijuana Use affirmed his commitment to the implementation of law passed by Gov. Rick Scott in June by making issuance of cards possible on faster pace his top priority. According to Bax, it takes average 30 days to get their ID cards, which can drag up to 35 to 90 days as well.
Patients suffering from chronic diseases such as epilepsy, cancer and terminal conditions, who were allowed under the law passed in 2014, to use low-THC cannabis or full strength depending upon their condition. And this delay in cards being issued, can add to their suffering. According to estimated figures, there are 54,120 registered patients in Medical marijuana registry but the number of printed cards is merely 29,000. There still a long way to go, and according to the rate of growth of this program, the process of producing new cards should pick up pace.
Outsourcing is done to keep up with the demand of consumers. So it is obvious that Medical Marijuana is demanding such mechanism in order to keep up with the patients’ needs and requirements. Speedy issuance of cards also is needed for the fact that various terminally ill patients can afford any undue delay in the delivery of this life-saving herb. This stance adopted by Christian Bax and Celeste Phillip seems only logical considering present reality of supply and demand. What will be the outcome of the case and what impact it will have on the patients, is yet to be seen.