Gov. Ron DeSantis, acting on one of his top priorities during his first year in office, signed into law Tuesday a measure that gives the state the go-ahead to pursue approval to import prescription drugs from Canada and other countries.

But the Republican governor acknowledged at a bill-signing ceremony that the program won't be up and running any time soon because of a requirement that it receive approval from federal authorities, including U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

"We are already working directly with Health and Human Services at the federal level, and I'm going to be talking with the president next week maybe more about it," DeSantis said. "We envision maybe this taking 'til next year for us to do it."

DeSantis, who won the governor's race with the support of President Donald Trump, has insisted his close relationship would help win over skeptical federal officials who have refused to endorse similar proposals from other states.
While the Board of Medicine has worked on finalizing the changes, the state Office of Medical Marijuana Use issued a notice advising physicians they can use their existing informed-consent and attestation forms.

Before the Board of Medicine approved the new forms, staff members discussed some concerns that the Joint Administrative Procedures Committee had. The committee is an arm of the Legislature that reviews whether rules properly track laws.

Committee chief attorney Marjorie Holladay noted that the new documents to be used by doctors interchangeably use the words “cannabis” and “marijuana,” and include references to the vernacular “joint.” Holladay suggested a possible amendment to explain that a joint is a marijuana cigarette, which the Board of Medicine declined.

The committee also flagged some concerns with new language regarding children smoking marijuana.

When the Legislature passed the bill in March, it limited access to smokable marijuana by children under age 18. Under the law, only children who are terminally ill can have access to smokable marijuana. The mandatory informed-consent form has a specific section about authorizing access to marijuana for terminal children.

Holladay also questioned language that was being added to the form regarding cognitive and psychosocial development. The new language notes that cannabis and other substances used during adolescence could cause “relatively greater interference in neural social and academic functioning compared to latest developmental periods.” Holladay asked that the Board of Medicine to explain what comparison is being used in reference to “greater interference.”

Rulemaking is often long and laborious, taking months or even years to finish. But changes related to smokable medical marijuana moved quickly.

Tellechea told board members that he would contact the Joint Administrative Procedures Committee to let it know the Board of Medicine is moving ahead with the changes because of the “importance that has been put on it by the governor’s office.”

But he said that he’d advise the committee that the Board of Medicine would be willing to revisit the rule after it becomes effective to address any concerns.