Medical marijuana – Florida Politics

Medical marijuana regulators withdraw licensing fee rule

State regulators have given up for now on a contentious rule requiring a hefty fee from medical marijuana suppliers.

The Department of Health, which regulates the drug through its Office of Medical Marijuana Use, had first proposed in April a “supplemental licensing fee” of $174,844 from each provider.

But the office on Monday, without explanation, announced it was withdrawing the proposed fee from further consideration.

It already had drawn a legal challenge from Liberty Health Sciences, a state-licensed “medical marijuana treatment center” (MMTC).

Its lawyer had argued the state set the fee too high.

“I understand the department will conduct future rulemaking proceedings on this subject and my client looks forward to discussing their concerns,” said John Lockwood, the company’s Tallahassee-based attorney.

In an email, Health Department spokesman Devin Galetta added that the department “is working to ensure that input presented by stakeholders during the rulemaking process is addressed.”

The fee in question was to be an “annual payment by a registered (provider) to cover the (state’s) costs of administering” the law governing medicinal cannabis.

Lockwood said in a filing with the agency that the calculation requires the state’s 13 currently licensed MMTCs “to bear the burden of the supplemental licensure fee when the fee should be borne by at least 17 MMTCs” — which would bring it down to around $133,000, a 24 percent decrease.

The money from the fee would help fund the Coalition for Medical Marijuana Research and Education within the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa.

Lawmakers gave it a mission “to conduct rigorous scientific research, provide education, disseminate research, and guide policy for the adoption of a statewide policy on ordering and dosing practices for the medical use of marijuana.”

Liberty Health Sciences’ other challenge on a “variance procedure” for MMTCs is still pending; a hearing is set for next Friday. Both challenges were filed in the state’s Division of Administrative Hearings.

The idea behind the latter rule, for one example, was to allow providers who had originally applied to use a certain marijuana processing procedure to later ask to use a newer, better technology.

But Liberty’s challenge there suggests it could also cause administrative nightmares by “requiring an MMTC to request a variance before hiring or firing any employee or manager.”

Liberty Health Sciences is a subsidiary of Canadian-based DFMMJ Investments, which itself was formerly partly owned by Aphria, a Canadian producer of medical cannabis products. Liberty has dispensaries in Summerfield, St. Petersburg, Tampa and Port St. Lucie.

Appellate court calls out ‘abuse of discretion’ in medical marijuana case

An appellate court delivered the equivalent of a judicial smackdown Tuesday following its decision last month to reinstate a delay on the effect of a lower court’s ruling that medical marijuana can be smoked in Florida.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal (DCA) issued a 5-page order calling Circuit Judge Karen Gievers‘ ruling to allow patients to smoke pending appeal “an abuse of discretion.”

The state’s appeal after Gievers’ decision had placed an automatic stay, or hold, on the ruling pending review.

Gievers lifted that stay. She found that the ban – written into state law – violates the constitutional amendment on medicinal cannabis, passed by 71 percent of voters in 2016.

But the appellate judges said the smoking plaintiffs “have not shown that compelling circumstances exist to support the order vacating the stay in this appeal,” nor have they “sufficiently demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits.”

That also counters Gievers, who previously said “there is no likelihood of success” by the state on appeal.

The 1st DCA left the door open, however, saying in a footnote that Tuesday’s move “do(es) not intend to preclude full review of the issues on appeal.”

John Morgan – the Orlando attorney, entrepreneur and medical marijuana advocate behind the 2016 amendment – organized the smoking ban lawsuit. Smoking was outlawed by lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott in an implementing bill approved last year.

The plaintiffs include Cathy Jordan, a woman with Lou Gehrig’s disease who has testified she wouldn’t be alive but for smoking marijuana.

The suit is against the Department of Health, which regulates the drug through its Office of Medical Marijuana Use.

Morgan has called on Republican Gov. Rick Scott, now running for U.S. Senate, to drop further court challenges of Gievers’ ruling.

And he has since said he’s “going to look at starting a fund” toward an initiative to legalize marijuana, including recreational use, on the 2020 ballot.

Attorneys in the smoking case and in a separate case brought by Joe Redner — the Tampa strip club mogul who won a decision allowing him to grow and juice his own medical marijuana — had asked the state’s Supreme Court to take over the appeals. Those requests were denied.

“This is not surprising and why it should go to the Supreme Court now,” Morgan tweeted in response to the latest ruling. “It’s not a matter of if but when. So why waste taxpayers money. Vacating a stay is impossible. This issue will haunt @FLGovScott in November when his ‘stay’ will be over!”

Tuesday’s order was by a unanimous three-judge panel of Joseph Lewis Jr., Lori S. Rowe, and M. Kemmerly Thomas.

Citrus ‘preference’ spurs marijuana license dispute

An orchid grower and investors spent nearly $800,000 to purchase property in Pinellas County they believed would give them a leg up in obtaining a highly sought-after medical marijuana license.

But one of the owners told a state judge Monday he now believes the business would have been better off keeping the cash, due to what his lawyers are calling a faulty rule proposed by state health officials.

Louis Del Favero Orchids is challenging the proposed rule, which is based on a law passed last year implementing a voter-approved constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana. The orchid grower argues the proposal fails to properly carry out the law, which includes giving preference for up to two medical marijuana licenses to applicants who own facilities that were used to process citrus.

The 2017 law also required health officials to issue 10 new licenses to applicants that meet certain requirements. Overall, the state has issued licenses to 13 operators, including a handful of new operators who met the criteria laid out in the 2017 law.

But it has not started accepting applications for four new licenses from potential vendors that may not have participated in the process before. Under the law, health officials have to give special preference for up to two licenses to applicants that “own one or more facilities that are, or were, used for the canning, concentrating, or otherwise processing of citrus fruit or citrus molasses and will use or convert the facility or facilities for the processing of marijuana.”

The citrus preference is the subject of one of several marijuana-related court challenges, including the one heard Monday by Administrative Law Judge R. Bruce McKibben.

Lawyers for Del Favero contend the proposed rule is flawed because it “seeks to grant a preference to a broader group of applicants than the statute permits.”

They say the rule gives preference to applicants who own “property” that was once used for citrus-processing purposes but would be used for processing medical marijuana. That’s different than the requirement in state law that preference be given to applicants who own “facilities” that were once used for citrus processing, lawyer Seann Frazier told McKibben.

After the law was passed last year, the orchid business paid $775,000 to purchase property in Safety Harbor that included a facility once used to process orange juice.

Ormond Beach lawyer David Vukelja, who owns 20 percent of Del Favero, told McKibben he and other investors closed on the property because they believed it would give them an edge when applying for a marijuana license.

“We looked at the statute,” Vukelja said. “We took it at face value.”

But according to the Department of Health, there’s nothing in the law that requires a “facility” to be a structure.

“There are three requirements. You have to own it. You have to prove it is or was used for canning, concentrating or otherwise processing. And you have to demonstrate how you will use that,” Courtney Coppola, deputy director of the state Office of Medical Marijuana Use, said Monday.

But Frazier asked if that meant that a tent, erected where a structure previously was used to process citrus, would make an applicant eligible for the citrus preference.

“You’re saying the facility is the tent. It could also be the space it’s in. So how they will convert that space. They could put a building on it,” Coppola said.

“The facility could be dirt. Unimproved dirt, that somebody could promise to put a $1 million processing plant on top of it, they would still meet the citrus preference. Is that true?” Frazier asked.

Coppola agreed.

The health department’s interpretation of that part of the law met with approval from Mecca Farms, a Lantana-based citrus company that intervened in the challenge.

Mecca operates out of a 50,000-square-foot facility that sorts, grades and waxes fruit — processing activities that health officials said make Mecca eligible for the citrus preference.

Mecca’s lawyer, Glenn Burhans, chided Frazier, saying he found it “ironic” that the orchid grower’s attorney suggested the 2017 statute was designed to help a flailing citrus industry.

“He’s right. But that’s not his client,” Burhans said. “Let’s not kid ourselves and think that Del Favero is a longtime citrus company that has fallen on hard times. That’s just not the case.”

Mecca, which began citrus farming in Florida more than three decades ago, is challenging a different part of the rule that deals with the scoring of the applications, which Burhans said gives too much discretion to evaluators.

Del Favero, meanwhile, also is challenging a component of the rule that gives 35 additional points to the two highest-scoring applicants seeking the citrus preference. The extra 35 points — just a 3 percent bonus on top of the total 1,150 points available to all applicants — aren’t enough to make a significant difference, according to Del Favero.

Because applicants can receive up to 100 points for certified financial documents, Vukelja said the orchid company may have had a better chance of getting a license had its owners not invested the money in the old citrus plant.

“We took cash off a balance sheet in order to acquire an asset only to find out it’s a diluted asset that, at best, is worth 35 points out of 1,150 points,” he told The News Service of Florida after the meeting. “I’m sure I’m one of a long list of people who feels they’re being screwed by the Department of Health. Yeah, that thought has crossed my mind.”

Health officials’ definition of facilities “could be anything from a building to dirt,” Vukelja said.

“How dirt is a facility is beyond me,” he said.

McKibben did not indicate how he would come down on the rule challenge, but he agreed with Ed Lombard, a private lawyer who represents the health department, that the law was imperfect.

“The statute, as someone mentioned, was poorly written, and I totally agree,” he said.

Ron DeSantis gets solid hits on national issues in Fox News debate

The first Florida Republican gubernatorial debate mainly focused on national issues and how they affect Florida, giving U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis chance after chance to put Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam on the defensive Thursday night.

The Fox News organized, moderated, and televised debate highlighting the first day of the Republican Party of Florida’s Sunshine Summit at the Gaylord Palms Resort Thursday night, and pressed the two on issues ranging from Supreme Court picks to President Donald Trump, and from international tariffs to immigration reform.

DeSantis’ wheelhouse.

While Putnam pressed his conservative values and credentials hard on everything from tightening abortion laws to gun control, DeSantis accused him of being soft on the estimated 850,000 illegal immigrants in Florida because Florida’s agriculture industry may want them, while waving his own endorsement from Trump like a trophy.

“He has been weak on the border, weak on immigration,” DeSantis charged to Putnam.

Putnam had few chances to talk about issues he’s watched dominate much of Tallahassee in recent years such as school reform, land conservation, jobs growth, or state budget priorities because they never remotely came up.

“I care more about the jobs in Ruskin [Florida] than about Russia,” Putnam said, one of several attempts, mostly that went nowhere, to turn the attention to Florida state issues.

Among the stronger points each candidate made:

— DeSantis promised to end all sanctuary cities, and threatened to remove from office any local official who tries to establish sanctuaries for illegal or undocumented immigrants, “if I’m allowed to.” But he did not commit to supporting deportation of the 850,000 estimated illegal immigrants in Florida, saying that was a Washington matter.

— Putnam strongly said he would support tougher laws against abortion, noting that he has promised to sign a “heartbeat bill” banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. However, even when the question was repeated, he did not say whether he wants to see the next Supreme Court justice be someone ready to overturn the landmark Roe V. Wade decision.

“As governor, I will always pursue a pro-life agenda,” Putnam said instead.

— Both of them fully stood by Trump. DeSantis noted his endorsement several times and pointed out that Putnam had backed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush early in the 2016 presidential campaigns and never campaigned for Trump.

“You couldn’t find Adam Putnam [on the Trump campaign trail] with a search warrant,” DeSantis said.

— Both of them blamed Democrats and the media for incivility and gave Trump a complete pass.

“Trump has almost the entire media against him. Fake news, day after day after day. He’s got the entire Democratic Party after him. He’s got the lobbyists after him. He’s got the bureaucracy after him. And he’s got some Republicans who’ve come after him to kneecap him,” DeSantis said. “So he is under an attack like no president has ever faced. And he is standing tall for us.”

Putnam agreed completely, adding a finger of blame toward President Barack Obama for incivility in the nation.

“This method of incivility did not begin with President Trump,” Putnam said. “It’s only reported by the left-wing media because they want to undermine our president and the conservative movement.”

— DeSantis said he does not support reuniting children with their illegal immigrant parents until they both are deported back to their home countries.

That led to a side debate in which DeSantis accused Putnam of killing state E-Verify requirements for Florida in behind the scenes efforts, to allow Florida agriculture operations the chance to hire illegal immigrants as laborers.

“He didn’t put Florida first there,” DeSantis said. “He put his big donors who want cheap labor ahead of citizens.”

Putnam denied that and said he fully supports Trump’s agenda on immigration and faulted Congress — and DeSantis by association — for not passing it.

As for border security, Putnam pointed out, as he did a couple times earlier, that he has been endorsed by 45 Republican sheriffs in Florida, saying they are confident he would be tough.

“Law enforcement has weighed our two backgrounds and weighed our two records and law enforcement is firmly in my camp,” Putnam said.

— DeSantis said he would not have signed the bill in the last legislative session that sought to secure schools but also included gun control measures such as raising the minimum age to 21 for rifle purchases.

— DeSantis also accused Putnam of covering up the failure of his department to run federal background checks for more than a year on concealed weapons license permits.

Putnam replied, “I held people accountable. I held myself accountable.”

— Both of them stated their opposition to Medicaid expansion and Obamacare in general.

— Putnam went a step farther and said he would favor requiring all able-bodied Floridians to work in order to receive any public assistance.

— Putnam accused DeSantis of being an absentee candidate, campaigning from TV studios. DeSantis replied that he’s been busy serving his country, as he had previously had to leave Florida to serve in the military. Still, Putnam had the night’s first laugh line, in his opening remarks.

“It’s completely different from a Washington D.C. studio,” Putnam said of the Gaylord Palms stage, “and I just want to say, ‘Welcome to Florida, congressman.'”

— Both of them offered support for medical marijuana because Florida voters had approved it, but both offered strong opposition to recreational marijuana, answering one of the few questions that were particularly Florida-centric.

John Morgan hints at ballot initiative for marijuana legalization

John Morgan on Tuesday said he’s “going to look at starting a fund” toward an initiative to legalize marijuana, including recreational use, on the 2020 ballot.

He has previously has been on the record supporting marijuana legalization. His latest tweets move him further in terms of personally promising a political solution.

The Orlando attorney and businessman, who was behind the 2016 constitutional amendment allowing medical marijuana in the state, was tweeting in response to a Florida Politics tweet on an appellate court order.

The 1st District Court of Appeal earlier Tuesday denied a request for a case on the state’s marijuana smoking ban to be moved directly to the Supreme Court.

Morgan organized that lawsuit; Tallahassee-based Circuit Judge Karen Gievers ruled that the ban violates the amendment, and the state appealed.

“Maybe it’s just time for full legalization,” Morgan tweeted. “It would pass with flying colors!”

Marijuana has been legalized in nine states, the District of Columbia and, most recently, Canada. Twenty-nine states, including Florida, allow medical use of marijuana. The 2016 amendment was approved by 71 percent of voters.

Morgan already chairs a political committee, Florida For A Fair Wage, that seeks to place a constitutional amendment on the 2020 ballot. It would Florida’s minimum wage to $10, effective Sept. 30, 2021, and then raise it $1 a year until it is $15 on Sept. 30, 2026.

Morgan’s tweets are below.

__

__

Background from The News Service of Florida, reprinted with permission.

Court rejects speeding up marijuana smoking case

An appeals court Tuesday rejected a request to quickly send a major medical-marijuana case to the Florida Supreme Court.

The case focuses on arguments about whether a 2017 law improperly bars patients from smoking medical marijuana.

Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers last month ruled that the smoking ban violated a 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana in Florida. Attorneys for the state appealed Gievers’ ruling to the 1st District Court of Appeal.

Plaintiffs in the case, including the group People United for Medical Marijuana, filed a motion June 8 asking that the case be “certified” to the Supreme Court — a move that would effectively lead to bypassing the 1st District Court of Appeal. The plaintiffs argued, in part, that the ban on smoking marijuana “presents an immediate threat of irreparable injuries to those patients for whom this medical (smoking) treatment is currently prohibited.”

But attorneys for the state disputed that the case should go immediately to the Supreme Court.

“(There) are various other forms of medical marijuana presently available and approved (or permitted) … in Florida for qualifying patients,” the state argued in a June 12 brief. “For example, vaping or vaporization of marijuana flower is permitted for medical use, so long as the flower is in a sealed, tamperproof receptacle.”

The appeals court Tuesday issued a one-sentence order rejecting the request to certify the case to the Supreme Court, though the order did not explain the reasoning.

Proposed medical marijuana rules already bringing challenges

They haven’t even been approved, but proposed rules on medical marijuana have already drawn legal challenges.

Liberty Health Sciences, a licensed medicinal cannabis provider, is challenging two rules, both debuted only two weeks ago. One is on a “supplemental licensing fee” and another covers a “variance procedure” for medical marijuana treatment centers, or MMTCs, as providers as called in Florida.

Both challenges were filed last week in the state’s Division of Administrative Hearings. “The department will review the challenges,” said Health Department spokesman Devin Galetta in an email.

The fee in question, an “annual payment by a registered (provider) to cover the (state’s) costs of administering” the law governing cannabis, came with a price tag of $174,844.

Liberty’s challenge is that the Department of Health, which regulates the drug through its Office of Medical Marijuana Use, set the fee too high. That’s because the calculation requires the state’s 13 currently licensed MMTCs “to bear the burden of the supplemental licensure fee when the fee should be borne by at least 17 MMTCs.”

The money from the fee would help fund the Coalition for Medical Marijuana Research and Education within the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa. Lawmakers gave it a mission “to conduct rigorous scientific research, provide education, disseminate research, and guide policy for the adoption of a statewide policy on ordering and dosing practices for the medical use of marijuana.”

The other rule would “establish a procedure for the Department of Health to grant variances from the representations made in a medical marijuana treatment center’s initial application for registration.”

The idea behind that rule, for one example, was to allow providers who had originally applied to use a certain marijuana processing procedure to later ask to use a newer, better technology.

But Liberty’s challenge suggests it could also cause administrative nightmares by “requiring an MMTC to request a variance before hiring or firing any employee or manager.”

Liberty Health Sciences is a subsidiary of Canadian-based DFMMJ Investments, which itself is partly owned by Aphria, a Canadian producer of medical cannabis products.

With dispensaries in Summerfield, St. Petersburg, Tampa and Port St. Lucie, the company is represented by The Lockwood Law Firm of Tallahassee.

“We look forward to working with the department on the substance of both rules,” firm principal John Lockwood told Florida Politics. “We’re not generally opposed to the concept of either rule. We’re just concerned with some of the formalities imposed. We want to accomplish both our goal and the department’s goal as well.”

The filings are below.

Appellate court puts hold on smokable medical marijuana

An appellate court has shot down a trial judge’s order to make immediate her ruling that medical marijuana can be smoked in Florida.

The 1st District Court of Appeal, in a one-page order dated Monday, quashed Circuit Judge Karen Gievers‘ order allowing patients to smoke

The state’s appeal of the decision placed an automatic ‘stay,’ or hold, on the ruling pending review. Gievers’ order lifted that stay.

“The stay provided for by (the) Florida Rule(s) of Appellate Procedure … shall remain in effect pending final disposition of the merits of this appeal,” the appellate court’s Monday order said. “An opinion setting forth this Court’s reasoning will issue at a later date.”

A spokesman for the Florida Department of Health had said the agency is reviewing the ruling and “working every day to implement the law.” Smoking was banned by lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott in an implementing bill passed last year for the 2016 constitutional amendment approving medical marijuana. 

The agency said medical marijuana is still available to patients — though not in smoking form. It regulates the drug through its Office of Medical Marijuana Use.

Meantime, attorneys for plaintiffs in the smoking case and for Joe Redner — the Tampa strip club mogul who won a decision allowing him to grow and juice his own medical marijuana — have asked the state’s Supreme Court to take over the appeals.

John Morgan, the Orlando attorney behind the constitutional amendment, also organized the smoking lawsuit. He has called on Republican Gov. Rick Scott, now running for U.S. Senate, to drop further court challenges of Gievers’ ruling.

She previously found “there is no likelihood of success” by the state on appeal.

The governor “is wasting taxpayers’ money on this frivolous appeal while veterans, cops, firefighters (with PTSD) and really sick people suffer,” Morgan said in a statement. “This callous meanness has no room in Florida. This act of cruelty will cost him the Senate seat.”

The department also reported last Friday that the state had surpassed 100,000 people with an approved medical marijuana patient identification card, but a spokesman said that would not trigger the issuance of another four licenses for marijuana providers under state law.

That “was everyone’s expectation and assumption,” Jeff Sharkey, founder of the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida, said last week. “I think there will probably be more than a little disappointment over this.”

Nikki Fried campaign video features marijuana grow-op, call for gun control

According to newly filed Agriculture Commissioner candidate Nikki Fried, the state is lax on gun control and too overbearing on medical marijuana.

In a campaign video released Monday morning, the Democrat makes her introduction to voters by setting up a dichotomy between pot and assault rifles.

“One helps sick and dying Floridians and is over-regulated,” Fried says of marijuana in the video. “And the other one is used to terrorize our schools and our communities, and is barely regulated at all.”

Fried, whose work as a lobbyist has focused on expanding access to marijuana, filed last week to run for the Cabinet post. Her advocacy for pot bridged into her campaign, where it will likely be a defining element.

In the video, which features pan shots of a Southwest Florida marijuana grow operation, she asks, “Honestly, what type of Agriculture Commissioner could be against a plant and the farmers who grow it?”

When Fried brings up assault rifles, an image of current Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam appears alongside the headline to a recent Tampa Bay Times report detailing a concealed-carry weapons permit background check lapse during Putnam’s tenure.

The video will air on Fried’s social media. Campaign manager Matt Gotha told Florida Politics that “no decisions have been made regarding putting money into the ad as of yet.”

Per a news release accompanying the video, Fried “intends to use the office to expand access to medical marijuana for sick and suffering Floridians, support the agriculture industry while protecting Florida’s land, water and beaches, advocate for consumers, and be an independent, compassionate voice on the Florida Cabinet.”

Fried, 40, will face off against Homestead Mayor Jeff Porter and David Walker in the Democratic primary. Both have grim fundraising numbers. Porter has $22,900 on hand and Walker has $148,550.

If Fried makes it to November, she’ll likely have to fight against one of a few deep-pocketed Republican candidates. State Rep. Matt Caldwell currently boasts $1.26 million banked for his run and state Sen. Denise Grimsley has $1.04 million at the ready. Former Rep. Baxter Troutman has largely self-funded his campaign, which had $1.5 million on hand at the beginning of June.

State tops 100,000 marijuana patients — but no more providers

Florida now has topped 100,000 “active” and “qualified” patients in its medical marijuana use registry, the Department of Health announced in an email Friday.

But again, according to a department spokesman, that doesn’t mean the department will issue another four licenses to grow and sell medical marijuana, as provided under state law.

The state had exceeded 100,000 overall almost two months ago — coincidentally on April 20, or 4/20 — in its medical marijuana use registry. Friday’s mark of 100,372 refers specifically to those that have an approved patient identification card application.

“That figure does not completely reflect an actual threshold that would trigger the new licenses,” spokesman Devin Galleta said in a phone interview Friday. “Once we do have the ability to approve new licenses, we do expect there to be four new licenses available at that time.”

The latest 100,000-plus tally covers “all applications approved over time,” Galleta explained, including “renewals and nonactive patients, so that doesn’t necessarily reflect the true number of active and qualified patients in the registry.”

But exceeding 100,000 approved ID cards to trigger extra licenses “was everyone’s expectation and assumption,” said Jeff Sharkey, founder of the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida. “I think there will probably be more than a little disappointment over this.”

State law says within six months of cracking the 100,000 mark, “the department shall license four additional medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTCs).” With every additional 100,000 patients, another four licenses have to issue.

Those patients, however, have to be “active” and “qualified.” That means “a resident of this state who has been added to the medical marijuana use registry by a qualified physician to receive marijuana or a marijuana delivery device for a medical use, and who has a qualified patient identification card.”

As the department’s own disclaimer says, “Not all patients entered into the medical marijuana use registry apply for medical marijuana use identification cards.”

When asked when the number of patients would trigger the issuance of additional licenses, Galleta said he “was not certain on that,” but would seek clarification from the department’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU), which regulates the drug.

Added Sharkey: “I agree it would be good to know what that number is. I believe (having over 100,000 approved ID cards) is what most legislators thought would trigger new licenses.”

Approved MMTCs currently number 13, with 43 retail locations across the state, records show.

With a lack of new licenses, businesses seeking to get into the medicinal cannabis market in Florida will likely take to buying licenses from existing providers.

Earlier this month, MedMen Enterprises Inc. of Los Angeles, the country’s biggest medical marijuana provider, said it had agreed to pay $53 million for a license from Central Florida’s Treadwell Nursery.

Others, such as Louis Del Favero Orchids — a Tampa orchid nursery — are seeking to use a provision in state law that gives preference in granting licenses to companies with underused or shuttered citrus factories. That was part of legislation that implemented the 2016 constitutional amendment allowing medical marijuana in the state.

Updated June 25 — In an email to Florida Politics, Galleta clarified that the actual number of “qualified” medical marijuana patients was 95,178. He said the department “will add this number to our weekly OMMU update published every Friday.”

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons