CHRONIC PAIN GOVERNMENT FOLLOW UP: Florida; Medical Marijuana

There have been developments on a couple of chronic pain issues that the National Pain Report has been following.

First in Florida.

FL Board of Pharmacy

The Controlled Substances Standards Committee of the state’s Board of Pharmacy met Tuesday near Orlando. The concern on availability of narcotic pain medications for patients has erupted in Florida, prompting the Board of Pharmacy to hold a public hearing.

The Board listened to three hours of testimony from over 30 people, including patients, doctors and pharmacists. A couple of patients described what they called “the pharmacy crawl”, going from pharmacy to pharmacy to try and get legitimate prescriptions filled.

Steve Ariens, a retired pharmacist and chronic pain advocate, is skeptical that anything is going to get done. He attended the session in Orlando. Here’s a link to his work on the issue.  For Ariens, the meeting was more about who didn’t attend.

“There was not a DEA representative nor a representative from Governor Scott or Attorney General Bondi’s office, ” he told the National Pain Report. “I believe the Board of Pharmacy is not a real player in this. ”

The Committee is going to meet again in August. They are inviting the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to testify. The DEA decision to reschedule hydrocodone last year and subsequent investigations into what it believes are illegal prescribing practices has contributed to the access issue.

The Board of Pharmacy makes the rules that pharmacists in Florida must follow. It’s that power that has many individuals feeling that the board could hold the answer to Florida’s prescription problems.

Medical MarijuanaHZ

Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., for the second time in a month, The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a measure to prevent the federal government from interfering in state medical marijuana laws.

The amendment, which passed 20-10, prohibits the Justice Department, including the DEA from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state laws that allow the cultivation, distribution and use of marijuana for medical purposes. An identical amendment was passed in the House. Here’s the National Pain Report story on that vote.

Medical marijuana is legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia.

This same Appropriations Committee voted on May 21st to allow doctors within the Veteran Affairs (VA) system to formally recommend medical marijuana to veterans. Here’s the National Pain Report story on that vote.

“This is another resounding victory for medical marijuana patients, their families, and their care providers. Congress is making it clear that the Department of Justice and the DEA have no business interfering in state medical marijuana laws,” said Dan Riffle, director of federal policy for the Marijuana Policy Project.

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