Florida Judge Blocks Florida’s Cannabis Licensing Process

The medical cannabis industry in Florida has been growing rapidly. Data released on the 29th of June showed that the number of patients benefiting from medical marijuana is over 130,000. The growth stood at around 2,580 patients per every week or around 370 patients on a daily basis. Such fast increases are very rare in medical marijuana industries. Even more, the number of pot licenses has continued to escalate.

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

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.

Even more, Dodson decided that the law is unconstitutional because it required all licensed marijuana operators to cultivate process and finally dispense the drug as opposed to breaking down the activities into various parts. He also ruled out 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 and running and those involved in the litigation.

The ruling will not affect medical cannabis availability in Florida. Medical and Low-THC marijuana in the state has been and will continue to be available to every qualified patient. The over 1500 qualified physicians and the 14 approved medical cannabis treatment centers within 55 locations have been helping patients enjoy the benefits this drug offers.

Rule challenge has been delaying the process of accepting new medical marijuana licenses in the state. Five aspirant operators who did not get permits during the first round of medical cannabis licenses three years ago and failed to qualify for the second time requested for help from the judge.

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.

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 medical marijuana industry in Florida, confusion over the acceptable number of licenses has existed. 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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