In contrast to the love affair many US states are having with medical marijuana, Florida’s relationship to the versatile drug is lukewarm. As of 2014, the first wave of legalization enabled doctors to prescribe non-euphoric strains of marijuana to be distributed to cancer patients, and a later version allowed higher TCH products to be prescribed only to patients with less than a year to live. As reluctant as lawmakers may be to go legal in Florida, it may be the doctors themselves who are slowing the tide.
Physicians may be eager to help their patients by relieving suffering, but the fear of malpractice lawsuits is a very real and present danger for many. Legal authorities, however, advise doctors that they have nothing more to fear from marijuana than from other pain-relieving narcotics. Yet.
As of now there have been no medical malpractice lawsuits filed that claim a doctor was negligent or inappropriate with regards to the recommendation for medical cannabis. The legal profession makes a clear distinction between prescribing a medication or treatment and recommending one. At this point doctors neither prescribe nor distribute marijuana, but issue a legal statement that a patient has a condition that may benefit from treatment with cannabis.
In a highly litigious society, it is likely that some such trend will emerge, such as it has around the misuse of opioid-based pain medications. Patients suffering with addiction and withdrawal from opioids have claimed that their doctors should not have prescribed the drugs from the outset. While this is difficult to prove, it can form the basis of a case that calls a doctor’s judgment into question. At this point in the conversation, it would appear that doctors are still reluctant to suggest marijuana as a treatment, so the motivation for a lawsuit — to prevent future medical negligence — seems unnecessary.
While medical marijuana has not yet reached full acceptance into the medical professional arsenal in Florida, it would seem to be inevitable. As its use becomes more common, it will remain to be seen if patients who misuse or overuse will be able to blame their doctors.
Medical malpractice is a serious matter. If you or someone you love has been harmed or injured by the negligence of a medical professional, call an attorney. At Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivy & Fronrath we care about getting you the compensation you deserve. Call our West Palm Beach office at 561-655-1990 or contact us online.