As medical marijuana industry grows, Gov. DeSantis changes leadership in state marijuana office
Bills to cap pot potency were stamped out. Image via AP.

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The state expects to award eight additional medical marijuana treatment center licenses by June, 30, 2024, according to budget documents.

As Florida’s medical marijuana market grows and flourishes, the Gov. Ron DeSantis administration has changed leadership in the Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU).

Christopher Phillip Kimball was named the director of the OMMU Nov. 11, Department of Health (DOH) Deputy Chief of Staff Weesam Khoury told Florida Politics Wednesday afternoon. Kimball replaces Chris Ferguson, a longtime department employee who headed the office for the last three years.

Kimball’s appointment to head the OMMU came one day before he was admitted to the Florida Bar, where he is a member of the Young Lawyers, Government Lawyers and Administrative Law divisions.

According to his LinkedIn page, Kimball has more than 20 years of military experience. He left the Navy in May after serving as “agency counsel/general counsel” for the Judge Advocate General’s Corps for nearly 14 years. Prior to that, Kimball was a Surface Warfare officer in the Navy for more than seven years.

Though he was hired late last week, Kimball’s information is not included in the state’s transparency website showing how much state employees earn annually and their positions. 

Kimball’s predecessor, Ferguson, is now the DOH’s County Health Systems Statewide Services administrator, Khoury said in an email to Florida Politics. In that position, Ferguson — who makes $121,187 annually according to a state website — will assist the Deputy Secretary’s Office in county health system management.

“With 67 counties, this system is critical to the overall mission of (the) DOH and (to) protecting communities by integrating essential public health missions at the grassroots level,” Weesam said of Ferguson’s new role in the DOH.

Khoury jokingly added, “We look forward to working with both Chris’ (lol) in their new roles.”

The News Service of Florida was the first to report the changes at the OMMU.

The changes at the Office of Medical Marijuana Use come as Gov. DeSantis enters his second term. The state’s medical marijuana business is also continuing to grow.

According to DOH’s recently filed 2023-24 legislative budget request, OMMU anticipates eight medical marijuana treatment center licenses will be awarded in Fiscal Year 2023-24. To keep up with additional demand for medical marijuana, DOH anticipated needing an additional 31 full-time employees to work in the OMMU’s Tallahassee headquarters and in yet-to-be-opened regional offices.

In all, DOH is requesting an additional $6.2 million in state funds be directed to the OMMU.

According to the Physician Certification Pattern Review 2023 Annual Report, 757,600 patients qualified or were eligible for medical marijuana in the state between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022. The vast majority of the patients, or 728,655, have smoking certifications.

The report also indicates 546 million ounces of smokable marijuana was certified for patients between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022.

The state is projecting the number of qualified medical marijuana patients to jump to 1,044,072 patients by June 30, 2024.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


  • tom palmer

    November 16, 2022 at 4:01 pm

    Other than military cronyism and the DeSantis administration well-documented secrecy. what does this tell us?

  • Marsha Sherouse

    November 18, 2022 at 8:00 am

    Anytime DeSantis takes over an entity it becomes a secret, belligerent situation!
    Florida Voters are never respected, It should be interesting to see how these items are handled.

  • Milton Figueroa

    November 18, 2022 at 12:50 pm

    I’m interested in knowing why so expensive to meet requirements? I’m in a fixed income and I make just under 21k a year. I’m using this to get off pharmaceutical crap doctors put me on for anxiety and depression.

    • Susan A.

      November 26, 2022 at 11:56 am

      Agreed. There’s no reason to see a physician twice a year when there’s very little assessment being done (in general) and it’s not covered by insurance.

  • Penny

    November 20, 2022 at 9:11 am

    Please change the law with a new adment (spelling) so Congress can change the law n have the same rules as liquor, with exceptions for children, diseases, cancer, and multiple health conditions. Also, weed is not a gateway drug, that award goes for alcohol. If you get anyone drunk enough, they will do anything. When Congress adds to the constitution our health insurance will pay for this. Thank you for your time, let’s get started, roll up your sleeves, n put your adult pants

  • Tina

    November 20, 2022 at 11:53 am

    Legalization of Marijuana would be a step in the right direction in the 20th century! I personally do not partake, however; it would surely increase the revenue for the State of Florida. Perhaps you might want to look at the the LOW unemployment wages for one of the highest state’s to live in! Could you live on $275.00 per week? Look at housing costs and everything else. I don’t have faith in a lot of things being done. I did vote for Ron DeSantis, however; unlike Marco Rubio I have reached out to our governor without any reply in the last 4 year’s, yet Marco Rubio has reached out but wasn’t in the “position “ to help in the issue at hand.
    Very disappointed voter and Florida resident. Guess Ron’s like all the other’s and only cares while there’s an election.

Comments are closed.


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