Florida Judge Criticizes Failure to License More Cannabis Businesses as Required Under 2017 Law

A Florida appeals court judge admonished state officials for not issuing additional medical cannabis licenses to service the more than 700,000 registered patients as required by the Florida Constitution.

Full story after the jump.

A Florida appeals court judge last week criticized state officials over their failure to issue new medical cannabis licenses as required under a 2017 law, News Service of Florida reports. First District Court of Appeals Judge Ross Bilbrey said that applicants are “understandably frustrated with the ongoing failure of the Department of Health to open the application window and issue Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC) licenses as required by the Florida Constitution.” 

Under the 2017 law, new licenses are supposed to be awarded as the number of medical cannabis patients increases. The state now has more than 700,000 registered patients and should have issued 22 more licenses, which would double the number of medical cannabis operators in the state. However, since taking office in 2019, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has not moved forward with issuing new licenses.     

“Almost five years after the emergency rule was issued, the MMTC license application window remains closed.” — Bilbrey, during the hearing, via News Service of Florida  

Louise St. Laurent, the Department of Health’s general counsel, said the agency wants “to open that window” and “have wanted to for three years” but have been forced to wait until the outcome of a separate lawsuit filed by Florigrown challenging the 2017 law.  

Bilbrey noted that the Florida Supreme Court ruled against Florigrown and upheld the 2017 law more than a year ago “and the MMTC license application window remains closed.”   

“I respectfully suggest that the department comply with its representations at the MedPure oral argument – either open the application window referenced in the emergency rule or promulgate a superseding rule allowing for MMTC license applications,” Bilbrey wrote. “Otherwise, it may be necessary for a potential licensee to ‘seek judicial relief to compel compliance with the department’s constitutional duties.’”  

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