TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) – Newly-released data on Florida’s patient to physician ratio suggests more physicians should be certified to handle the growing number of medical cannabis patients in Florida.
According to the report published Aug. 19 by the Physician Certification Pattern Review Panel of the Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine, the state had 168,810 patient certifications for medical marijuana between Oct. 1, 2018, and March 31, 2019.
While each registered patient may have more than one certification depending on their diagnosis, more than half of them came from only 89 of the state’s 1,207 qualified physicians.
Those 89 physicians were responsible for 94,850 of certifications, raising eyebrows among state legislators. That’s seven percent of the physicians responsible for 56 percent of the medical marijuana certifications.
But Dr. David Berger, whose practices Wholistic Pediatrics and Family Care and Wholistic ReLeaf are well-known throughout the Tampa Bay area, believes that as long as ethical standards are being met, certified physicians are doing what they are educated to do.
“I have seen doctors practicing in a way that wouldn’t meet my standards,” said Berger. “From what I understand we are the prototype practice in providing patient education and being available for our patients.
Between himself and Dr. Tanya Gold, Wholistic ReLeaf treats approximately than 3,185 patients.
“The way the law is written is so crystal clear on state requirements and rules of what you can and can not do and there is no such language in it saying how many certifications patients can get per physician.”
Berger agrees that there needs to be education and comfort with the physicians who could eventually become trained to prescribe medical marijuana, but he doesn’t think that the report should signal a red flag.
“We’re talking about something that, unlike alcohol and LSD, doesn’t alter the body to create an unsafe effect,” Berger said. “So as long as patients are seeing a physician that is legally and ethically compliant, that sort of data shouldn’t be scrutinized too much.”