Florida Judge Criticizes State Health Officials for Slow Medical Cannabis Licensing
A Florida appeals court judge criticized state health officials because they did not issue enough medical cannabis licenses as required by law.
Judge Ross Bilbrey, who ruled in an MMJ licensing dispute at the 1st District Court of Appeals, stated that “almost five years after the emergency rule was issued, the (state) license application window remains closed,” reports the news service of Florida.
Bilbrey shared his opinion after he and two other justices upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by Louis Del Favero Orchids for a license for medical marijuana treatment centers (what dispensaries are called in Florida.)
Bilbrey noted that the defendant was “understandably frustrated with the ongoing failure of the Department of Health to open the application window and issue Medical Marijuana Treatment Center licenses as required by the Florida Constitution.”
In 2016, the state changed its Constitution to allow medical marijuana. One year later, a law was passed that required the health department to issue new licenses when the number of patients authorized increased.
The Need for Florida MMJ Expansion
According to the News Service of Florida, there are currently 22 MMJ operators in the state. However, there should be at least 22 more.
This figure is based on the state’s current medical marijuana card holders, which now exceeds 700,000.
Furthermore, people seeking licenses are understandably frustrated.
Since DeSantis took office in 2019, the MMJ licensing application process has been in limbo despite stipulations to expand it as cardholders increase in the state.
Moreover, the judge suggested that applicants file a legal challenge to force officials to open the application process.
In March, the health division accepted applications for licenses earmarked under the 2017 law for Black farmers. Bilbrey mentioned in a footnote that the state has yet to grant the license.
The footnote referenced a recent news story covering the lengthy wait for Black farmer licenses.
Bilbrey wrote that “the article claims that the delay in issuing licenses to other MMTCs has allowed three MMTCs to control two-thirds of Florida’s medical marijuana markets.”
Bilbrey’s critiques indicate the impatience among investors from around the world eager to establish business in Florida.