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Privacy Breach Outrages Florida Medical Marijuana Patients

Breaking News: Unsolicited Email from Florida Department of Health Praises Gov. DeSantis, Infuriating Medical Marijuana Patients


On June 19, 2024, Florida's Department of Health sent an email to nearly 700,000 medical marijuana patients, lauding Governor Ron DeSantis's accomplishments. This email, which celebrated initiatives such as a cancer research program and funding for health issues like HIV, hepatitis, and syphilis, conspicuously omitted any mention of medical marijuana. This act has sparked a wave of outrage among patients and advocates who accuse the administration of misusing their contact information for political promotion.


Breaking News: Unsolicited Email from Florida Department of Health Praises Gov. DeSantis, Infuriating Medical Marijuana Patients
Breaking News: Unsolicited Email from Florida Department of Health Praises Gov. DeSantis, Infuriating Medical Marijuana Patients

Patient and Advocate Reactions


State Representative Kelly Skidmore, a leading Democrat on the House Health Policy Committee, expressed her disdain, calling the action a misuse of power and information.


"I guarantee you nobody checked the box that said, 'Yes, it’s OK to send me information on Gov. DeSantis’ agenda,'" she asserted.

The Department of Health defended its decision.


The Florida Department of Health stated that the email was sent to over two million individuals in its databases, including the public, healthcare professionals, licensees, and media. Spokeswoman Weesam Khoury criticized the media's focus on the email, suggesting that it distracted from the department's significant health investments.


Privacy Concerns and Legal Implications


Advocates argue that this email is more than a mere inconvenience—it represents a privacy violation. Under Florida's broad public records laws, the disclosure of email recipients could inadvertently reveal who is a medical marijuana patient, potentially leading to unwanted marketing, political messaging, or even employment discrimination.


Jodi James, president of the Florida Cannabis Action Network, emphasized that patients' information should not be part of general email blasts. Echoing this sentiment, Nikki Fried, chair of the state Democratic Party and former agriculture commissioner, condemned the action as irresponsible. She stressed that using such a database for political purposes would have brought severe repercussions during her tenure.


Calls for Accountability and Legal Action


A medical marijuana patient from Pensacola has announced plans to file a formal complaint, highlighting the severity of the issue by drawing parallels with a doctor misusing private patient information for an agenda.


“If it was a doctor that put out your private patient information for some other agenda, I feel like somebody should be held accountable,” said the patient

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