New Regulations To Expand Marijuana Licensing Across Florida Are Being Implemented!

On Monday, state health regulators initiated the process to issue up to 22 additional medical marijuana licenses, a widely anticipated move that potentially double the size of Florida’s medical cannabis sector. In addition, the state Department of Health announced an emergency regulation that would significantly increase the cost of license renewal for marijuana businesses from the current $60,000… to over $1 million.

Since licenses in the state had sold for over $50 million, Gov. Ron DeSantis last year increased the renewal costs, claiming that medical Marijuana companies were not paying enough to operate in the state. Health officials will accept new license applications in “batching cycles,” as outlined in an emergency rule. The plan did not specify how many licenses would be up for grabs in each cycle, only that the windows for the batching cycles will be set under a separate rule.

According to ex-senator Jeff Brandes, the issue isn’t the availability of licenses, but rather how those licenses are structured. “There’s no sugarcoating it: it’s against the law in Florida to grow plants for any purpose. As of right now, it’s against the law in Florida to distribute marijuana or operate rehab centers that specialize in the drug “The man spoke up and explained. “You need to be involved in every aspect of the company, from marketing to sales to product development.

Having to own its own farms and process its own cows to sell hamburgers is like McDonald’s having to own it on farms.” This, he claimed, is the primary cause of excessively high costs. And that’s why we always seem to be running out on supplies in these buildings,” he said. “The government had a chance to build a free and open market…and it lost the ball, and what this generated now is a cartel system that often runs out of product, which ultimately puts people at risk.”

The ordinance also established a new license application price of $146,000, which is over twice as much as the initial licensing charge established by the state more than five years ago ($60,830). A flurry of activity may be observed among industry lawyers, lobbyists, and investors following Monday’s guidelines announcement.

The partner at the national cannabis-law firm Vicente Sederberg LLP in Jacksonville, Sally Kent Peebles, told The News Service of Florida that health officials were “smart” to add the batching-cycle requirement in the applicable regulation. The phrase about the batching cycle was “pretty ingenious,” as Peebles put it, “because I would believe the reason they did it is to avoid all this costly litigation that we’ve seen in the past.”

According to Peebles, unsuccessful applicants could reapply for licenses in a subsequent batching cycle. This could compromise their standing in any potential legal disputes. If the Department of Health tells a rejected organization, “You have the possibility to reapply,” it will “lessen the inclined and has the wind taken out of the sails,” as Peebles put it.

Florida is one of the most promising states for the medicinal Marijuana industry because of its large and rapidly graying population. According to Headset, a cannabis data analytics company, the first half of 2022 saw more than $1 billion in medical-marijuana sales in Florida, where there are 22 licensed operators.

Attorney Daniel Russell of the Dean Mead company who represents applicants told The News Service of Florida, “We appreciate the department pushing forward on this essential next step and look forward to filing an application whenever the opportunity opens.” The Department of Health is obligated to issue additional licenses in proportion to the growth in the number of legally eligible patients, per a law passed in 2017 that established a regulatory framework for the state’s medical-marijuana business.

The state should have awarded at least 22 more licenses to meet the needs of its over 775,000 patients. Since Governor DeSantis assumed office in 2019, however, the application process has been in limbo. The DeSantis administration has said that litigation challenging the 2017 law is to blame for the delay, although in December of last year, the Florida Supreme Court issued a ruling upholding the law.

According to attorney Jim McKee, who represents license holders and applicants, “while the application deadline will be established via a separate rule, today’s publication of the application rule and form begins a long-awaited process to award the 22 additional licenses currently authorized by statute.” While the decision to issue more licenses was applauded, experts projected that at least some present operators would balk at paying the significantly increased renewal charge.

Costs to the state for enforcing regulations are factored into the increased renewal charge. According to documents provided by the Department of Health on Monday, the renewal price will be $1,332,124.42 for license renewals due between January 1, 2023, and December 31, 2024. In August, the governor brought up the topic of license fees, telling reporters that the state “should charge these people more.”

In his words, these permits are “extremely precious,” as the governor put it. “I’d charge an arm and a leg for my services. I mean, obviously, these permits are in high demand.” Voters supported a constitutional amendment in 2016 that largely legalized medical marijuana, and since then, the cannabis business has flourished.

For applicants who “own one or more facilities that were, 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 department on Monday also outlined a process for a portion of the 2017 law requiring health officials to give a special preference for up to two licenses.

Louis Del Favero, Inc., a Tampa-based orchid grower who acquired land in order to comply with the citrus preference, has filed various administrative and legal challenges to the preference. After previous attempts to get more licenses issued failed, in November Louis Del Favero launched a lawsuit against the Department of Health, claiming they were breaking the state constitution by taking so long to do it.

Tallahassee attorney Seann Frazier, who represented Louis Del Favero, hailed the new regulations as “a step in the right way.” “This has given us a lot of hope. We eagerly await the official application period to begin so that we may submit our own “The News Service, he revealed. A Black farmer who had sued the federal government for decades due to its discriminatory lending policies (in what became known as the “Pigford” lawsuits) is now licensed thanks to a 2017 statute that mandated it.

Although the health department has already stated its intention to grant the Black farmer license to a producer in Suwannee County, the agency’s decision is being contested by unsuccessful applicants. The rules published on Monday came about a month after the state’s new marijuana czar, Christopher Kimball, was hired by the Department of Health.

According to his LinkedIn page, Kimball departed the Navy in May after having served as “agency counsel/general counsel” for the Judge Advocate General’s Corps since 2008. A former member of the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration, he is now the head of the Office of Medical Marijuana Use.

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