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Florida medical marijuana provider cries foul over online brokers, telehealth evaluations

As the number of patients approved to use medical marijuana in Florida continues to climb, some providers are growing increasingly frustrated by what they allege are bad actors in the state’s highly competitive cannabis industry.

One of the issues involves online companies seeking to make it easier for people to qualify for medical marijuana by connecting patients and doctors. The businesses share a portion of fees with physicians, who sometimes conduct patient evaluations through telehealth.

The fee-sharing agreement could run afoul of a state law prohibiting patient brokering. And a separate law requires doctors to meet in person with patients seeking medical marijuana.

The activities are drawing the ire of doctors spending money and time to comply with what is deemed to be one of the nation’s most rigorously regulated medical marijuana programs.

Nearly 2,300 Florida doctors have undergone training that allows them to order medical marijuana, which was broadly legalized by state voters in a 2016 constitutional amendment. A number of physicians belong to practices that focus almost exclusively on cannabis patients. The state has more than 730,000 patients who’ve qualified for the treatment.

Online businesses such as Veriheal are gaining a foothold in Florida and other states by promoting services for patients interested in getting state-issued medical-marijuana cards.

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