Florida Judge Blocks Florida’s Cannabis Licensing Process

In Florida, the medical cannabis industry has been growing at an unbelievable rate. Data released on June 29th show that over 130,000 people are currently benefitting from medical marijuana. Florida is seeing a growth of around 2,580 patients a week, and 370 patients a day. Growth this fast is rare as we’re seeing the rate of these licenses only continuing to escalate.

In what people might see as another delay for the burgeoning industry, Tallahassee Judge Charles Dodson agreed to bar health officials in the state from proceeding with application processes for the highly demanded medical cannabis licenses. In August, the judge had ruled that capping of the total number of medical cannabis operators in the state directly contradicted the amendment, which voters overwhelmingly approved in 2016.

The Florida Department of Health maintains that the 2017 law, which was aimed at implementing the voter-approved constitutional amendment that legalized medical marijuana, allows the issuance of only two licenses. Another purpose of the 2017 law was to help curb litigations associated with the highly sought for licenses.

Even more, Dodson decided that the law is unconstitutional because it requires all licensed marijuana operators to cultivate, process, and finally dispense the drug. This opposes a market that breaks down the activities into various parts. Dodson ruled that the state’s restrictions on who could get the licenses were improper, and the operators should grant licenses to the operators who are already up, running, and involved in the litigation.

Luckily, the ruling will not affect medical cannabis availability in Florida. Medical and Low-THC marijuana in the state has and will continue to be available to each and every qualified patient. All 1500 qualified physicians and the 14 approved medical cannabis treatment centers across 55 locations will not have to stop helping patients enjoy the benefits that this drug offers.

Administrative Law Judge G.W Chisenhall has to settle basic arguments such as the number of licenses the state has to offer. Officials from the Florida Department of Health had maintained that only two licenses are available under the 2017 law that aimed at implementing the voter-approved constitutional amendment that legalized medical cannabis. The 2017 Law would also curb litigation associated with the sought-after licenses.

A ‘rule challenge’ in the case has been delaying the process of new medical marijuana licenses across the state. For example, five separate operators who failed to get permits during the first round of medical cannabis licenses three years ago once again failed to qualify for the second time after they had requested for help from the judge.

The rejected applicants contended that if they have already fulfilled all the requirements the law has set, they should get licenses, regardless of the number. The applicants filed administrative challenges with an aim of overturning the decisions of health officials to maintain the number of operators at a lower level.

Since the inception of the medical marijuana industry in Florida, confusion over the acceptable number of licenses has run rampant. The projected medical cannabis sales by 2020 stood at $1.5 billion, but administrative and legal challenges have limited the growth of this industry. The heavy competition for operation licenses increased after voters approved a constitutional amendment around two years ago.

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