New state numbers confirm a fraction of doctors responsible for most medical marijuana certifications

New numbers from the state show a small number of doctors are writing the majority of medical marijuana certifications.

WINK News first revealed this in October, shortly after the Board of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine’s Physician Certification Pattern Review Panel reviewed the first six months of data, from October 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019. The report revealed the leading medical marijuana doctor in the state, Dr. Gregory Sonn of Iona Cannabis Clinic, currently operates in Fort Myers.

“I am successful because I’ve done the research. I’ve done the education,” Sonn said in the initial interview with WINK News. “We believe that this is medicine, and in my mind it should be open to everybody who has interest.”

MORE: Fort Myers doctor leads state in medical marijuana certifications, explains what’s holding others back

The new report released in December outlines data collected for a full year, from October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019.

According to the new annual report, Sonn’s numbers more than doubled from 4,203 certifications over six months to 8,838 certifications for the full year. WINK News spoke with two other physicians earlier in the year, and their numbers went up as well. Fort Myers pain management physician Dr. George Soliman’s certifications grew from 24 certifications in six months to 94 certifications for the whole year, and Dr. Gary Courville of Naples went from 22 certifications in six months to 46 certifications for the year.

Statewide, the new data shows 9% of physicians wrote 61% of all certifications, which is not far off from the last report that showed 7% of physicians wrote 56% of the certifications.

On Dec. 5, the review panel met in Orlando to present the annual report to leading government officials, including Governor Ron Desantis. The meeting agenda said the group would discuss the “report and recommendations from the Panel to be included in the report, and [vote] to approve draft recommendation(s) to be included in the report.”

According to Florida Statute 381.986(4)(j), “The physician certification pattern review panel shall, beginning January 1, 2018, submit an annual report of its findings and recommendations to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.”

But at this meeting, the panel did not make any recommendations to the legislature.

A representative for the Florida Department of Health told WINK News in an email:

“There were no recommendations made to the legislature at the meeting. There were only suggestions to the data team for what kind of data they would like to obtain next year to establish patterns”

“They asked if the data could be broken down to show any specialties of the physician. For instance, how many of those ordering MMJ [medical marijuana] for PTSD are doctors specializing in psychiatry vs a general practitioner.”

“No upcoming meetings for this committee have been noticed so I do not have an answer for that question at this time.”

Reporter:Sara Girard
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