The Florida Division of Well being introduced final week that it’s going to open a brand new spherical of licensing for medical marijuana companies that can double the variety of vertically built-in hashish operators within the state. In an emergency rule launched on Friday, the well being division revealed that 22 new medical marijuana enterprise licenses can be accessible, a transfer that might double the 22 operators presently licensed to supply and promote medical marijuana in Florida.
The brand new emergency rule comes greater than six years after Florida voters legalized the medicinal use of hashish with the passage of a constitutional modification poll measure in 2016. The next yr, state lawmakers handed laws to manage the state’s medical marijuana business, with provisions to subject extra hashish enterprise licenses because the variety of registered sufferers grew.
With the variety of registered medical marijuana sufferers now standing at practically 790,000, according to data launched final week, state regulators ought to have issued practically two dozen medical marijuana enterprise licenses to maintain up with this system’s development. However till final week, the Division of Well being had didn’t take motion on issuing extra medical marijuana enterprise licenses for the reason that administration of Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis took management of the state’s government department in 2019.
“That is an thrilling milestone for Florida’s medical hashish program, greater than 5 years within the making,” Courtney Coppola, a former director of the state’s Workplace of Medical Marijuana Use, told The News Service of Florida. “These extra licenses are an vital step in transferring this system ahead for Florida’s sufferers and future licensees.”
Florida Purposes To Be Accepted In April
In December, hashish regulators on the state well being division introduced that it had developed a course of to use for brand spanking new medical marijuana enterprise licenses, with plans to just accept functions in “batching cycles,” based on media reviews. Below the emergency rule printed on Friday, the division will settle for functions for 22 extra licenses between April 24 and April 28. Louise St. Laurent, a former normal counsel for the state Division of Well being, mentioned that the state’s medical marijuana operators “are thrilled” by final week’s announcement from regulators.
“There’s been no scarcity of firms ready and watching the division for these guidelines since in all probability a minimum of 2017 to have the ability to have a possibility to have the ability to compete for these licenses,” St. Laurent mentioned on Friday.
Florida’s current medical marijuana operators had been licensed below a 2014 legislation that legalized “non-euphoric” types of hashish for a restricted variety of sufferers. The brand new licensing spherical introduced on Friday would be the first batch of recent licenses issued for the reason that measure to manage the state’s medical hashish business was handed in 2017.
The 2017 laws additionally required the Division of Well being to subject a license to a Black farmer with enterprise ties in Florida. In September, regulators introduced that the license could be awarded to a person in Suwannee County, however authorized challenges have compelled the well being division to delay issuing the license to the profitable applicant.
Leisure Weed Initiative Deliberate For 2024
Though Florida has to this point solely legalized medical marijuana, a constitutional modification marketing campaign to legalize hashish to be used by adults is presently underway, with plans for the proposal to seem on the poll for the 2024 election. Final week, organizers for the constitutional modification marketing campaign, which is basically funded by Florida’s largest medical marijuana Trulieve, submitted sufficient signatures from voters backing the measure to require the Florida Supreme Court docket to overview the proposal.
Below state legislation, the Supreme Court docket should approve initiatives earlier than they are often positioned on the poll. In 2021, Florida’s highest court docket used that energy to strike down two separate proposals to legalize leisure marijuana, denying the state’s voters the chance to weigh in on the initiatives. However Jade Inexperienced, the president of hashish business consulting agency Subsequent Titan Capital, believes that the destiny of the 2021 proposals just isn’t prone to impede assist for this yr’s try to legalize adult-use hashish.
“Florida is unquestionably a market of curiosity, particularly in comparison with among the different extra mature, extra saturated markets,” mentioned Inexperienced. “The primary cause is, everyone has an identical perception that, no matter occurs in 2024, finally adult-use (leisure) hashish will come to Florida.”
Florida’s current medical marijuana business is estimated to generate about $1 billion in annual gross sales for the state’s operators. Including authorized leisure marijuana would open the market to all adults within the state, providing firms an added incentive to enter Florida’s medical marijuana business.
“If you may make it in Florida till rec (leisure marijuana) hits, then you should have a major benefit in what can be one of many largest hashish economies not simply within the U.S. however on the earth,” Inexperienced mentioned.