Updated on November 22, 2021.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
It has been six years since medical marijuana laws were enacted in the state of Florida. Doctor-supervised cannabis is available in many states across the country. Some residents, though, are apprehensive about the privacy of their health records. They are unaware of Florida‘s current medical marijuana privacy laws that protect their private information.
Why Are People Concerned About Florida Medical Marijuana Record Privacy?
There are some that are not supportive of the use of medical marijuana. They have profiled cannabis much the way the Federal Government has, as a dangerous Schedule 1 drug. That segment of the population may create negative assumptions about medical marijuana, and the patients that take it every day for symptom relief.
Because there is such a variance in opinions about medical cannabis, Americans are apprehensive about adding their name to a state registration list that would identify them as cannabis users. There is a concern that the information could be used to create problems for job search and employment or even housing applications.
Who Can See My Medical Marijuana Health Records?
It is important for permanent and seasonal residents of Florida to know that your records are secure, safe, and only accessible by your physician, the Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC), your healthcare team, and the Florida Medical Marijuana Use Registry (MMUR).
There are medical organizations in the state of Florida that oversee regulatory issues for medical cannabis. They work to make sure it is controlled for patient safety. They also regulate the activities of marijuana doctors in Florida and dispensaries to ensure that they are complying with state laws.
Law enforcement authorities are also permitted by state law to view registrant information only as it may pertain to a criminal offense in the state of Florida:
“Pursuant to s. 381.987, F.S. the department allows access to confidential and exempt information in the Medical Marijuana Use Registry to law enforcement agencies that are investigating a violation of law regarding marijuana in which the subject of the investigation claims an exception established under s. 381.986, F.S.”
— Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU) Florida.
All records, including medical cannabis use, which may be part of a criminal investigation are available to Florida law enforcement. These records are protected and accessed only when needed. Rest assured, only your name and contact information is shared. The details of your diagnoses and medical conditions are protected under HIPAA.
What Information Is Contained in the Florida Medical Marijuana Registry?
A minimal amount of information is saved on the Florida medical marijuana registry. Every medical cannabis cardholder in Florida must be registered to receive and retain their patient marijuana card.
The Florida patient registration for medical marijuana record will contain:
Date of Birth
The photo that is on your Florida MMJ card
A unique card identification number used only when needed by Law Enforcement
The date of medical marijuana card issuance in Florida
The date of card expiration
If you are a patient that has designated a caregiver to assist with medical marijuana therapeutic needs, the name and contact details of your caregiver will also be in your registry profile.
Can I Obtain a Medical Marijuana Card in Florida if I Have a Criminal Record?
If you are a permanent or a seasonal resident in Florida who has a criminal record you are not prohibited from getting an MMJ card. This allows individuals with either misdemeanor or felony convictions, who have qualifying health conditions, to access medical marijuana for therapeutic needs. You must be under the supervision of a licensed Florida marijuana doctor.
The key concerns of state medical marijuana regulators are to ensure the following safety priorities are met, both by certified marijuana doctors and medical marijuana treatment centers:
Prevent the distribution of cannabis to minors.
Prevent revenue from the sale of medical marijuana from supporting criminal or terrorist enterprises, gangs, and cartels.
Prevent the diversion of medical marijuana from states where it is legalized, to states that have not approved medical marijuana. And to prevent legalized medical marijuana from being distributed as recreational or adult-use cannabis in other states.
Ensure that legalized medical marijuana is not used as a ‘cover’ for the cultivation and distribution of illegal adult-use marijuana.
Prevent the use of public lands for the cultivation of medical marijuana and protect public health and the environment.
Prevent unlawful possession or distribution of medical cannabis on Federal property.
Will My Medical Marijuana Status in Florida be Reported to My Insurance Company?
At the time of this writing, health insurance plans do not cover medical marijuana certification, consultation, or supply costs. It is, however, covered by insurance in other countries, such as Canada. In New York, patients may now claim marijuana doctor visits and consultations on their insurance. The expense of purchasing marijuana products, or related devices, for smoking medical cannabis, is not covered, however.
Will Insurance Ever Pay for Medical Marijuana In Florida?
Lawmakers in Florida are moving ahead to open the legislative path. They are in favor of medical cannabis being covered by health insurance companies. However, as federal law still defines all types of marijuana to be a Schedule 1 controlled substance, health insurance companies have many challenges before they can make it an option for patients.
According to Federal law, physicians are prohibited from ‘prescribing’ a Schedule 1 drug to any patient, regardless of whether or not medical marijuana has become legalized in that state. Some health insurance companies have stated that they would not cover cannabis costs when medical marijuana was purchased from a dispensary. However, if it was an OTC (over the counter) product in pharmacies, they would consider allowing patients to use health insurance claims to offset the costs of medical cannabis.
The Medical Information Bureau Retains Diagnoses and Encrypted Health Information
Founded in 1902, the MIB compiles data about previous life insurance, health insurance, disability, or long-term care insurance applications you have made in the past. In order for the Medical Information Bureau to collect and retain that data, a patient must have applied for insurance services.
Your Medical Information Bureau Consumer file can include:
Medical and personal information that was requested as part of your insurance application process.
The insurer you requested services from.
The name of any insurance provider who requested access to your information, and when they reviewed the information.
Information in the MIB Disability Insurance Record System (DIRS) for any American who has applied for disability income insurance.
To gain access to the information in the MIB, an insurance company must collect written consent from the patient under HIPAA regulations. It is used to verify health information, conditions, and previous applications for insurance, and to review consistency in patients’ health history and claims. All conditions use ICD-10 to code information for privacy.
You can request a copy of your data and consumer file held by the Medical Information Bureau here. You can also review, dispute, and correct any inaccurate information on your MIB file.