Medical cannabis regulators in Florida will not meet today’s legislatively-mandated deadline to approve five new licenses for the state’s expanded regime, the News Service of Florida reports. Christian Bax, the Office of Medical Marijuana Use executive director, blamed the delay on Hurricane Irma and lawsuits against the expansion plans.
In a letter to legislative leaders explaining that the office would not meet the deadline, Bax indicated that the department is still in litigation over two of the 13 legal challenges to the law and that the hurricane relief efforts “necessitated the mobilization of all available department assets for nearly two weeks.”
One of the lawsuits, filed this month by Panama City farmer Columbus Smith, contends the constitutionality of part of the law that specifies one medical cannabis license go to an African American farmer who was part of settled discrimination lawsuits by the federal government against black farmers. In his lawsuit, Smith argues that the measure is an unconstitutional “special law.”
“The OMMU is aware of its important role in continuing to move this process forward to provide patient access as quickly and safely as possible. However, recent history has emphasized the importance of getting the [medical marijuana treatment center] licensure process right the first time,” he wrote, alluding to Smith’s suit.
Lawmakers expect an updated timeline during legislative committee meetings next month.
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