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Florida Approves $13.3 Million In New Funding for MMJ Office

A joint legislative committee of Florida lawmakers has approved an additional $13.3 million in funding for the Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU), even though lawmakers have been frustrated with the office for moving slowly on the medical cannabis system’s implementation, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

The money is intended for a seed-to-sale tracking system, to cover legal fees, to establish a patient identification card system, and to license four more medical cannabis operators.

Lawmakers are reportedly irritated by the unusual way in which the office acquired its funding. The current state budget went into effect last month, in which the Office for Medical Marijuana Use was awarded just $1 million, far less than it actually needed for the year. Some lawmakers complain that the timing of the request for funds was deliberately delayed to allow the OMMU to avoid conflict with lawmakers.

“Most if not all of the costs that are outlined in this request have been known or anticipated for quite a while. Why are we using a process that essentially is meant for fixing mistakes… to fund the implementation of a constitutional amendment that 71 percent of Florida voters approved almost two years ago?” — Rep. Janet Cruz (D-Tampa), in the report

The OMMU claims that legal and administrative disputes, as well as fallout from Hurricane Irma, was the cause of its slow progress and poor budgetary planning. Lawmakers, previously having withheld salaries for officials in that department in order to see progress, nonetheless approved the latest funding request.

“I’m disappointed that we’re dealing with it now. [We’re] looking for solutions, not to assign blame… We stand ready to fund what needs to be funded.” — Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island), via The Tampa Bay Times

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