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Regulators Late In Picking Florida Dispensaries

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No Florida Dispensaries Yet

In 2014, the Florida legislature passed the “Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014” and it was signed into law by Governor Scott.  Florida’s new medical marijuana law would allow patients with certain conditions to be treated with low-THC strains of marijuana. Under this law, Florida regulators are tasked with picking five dispensaries around the state. These licensed dispensaries would then be allowed to grow and distribute low-THC marijuana to patients whose doctors had prescribed medical marijuana. It was widely believed that Florida’s Office of Compassionate Use would pick the five dispensaries allowed under the law by October, 2015. However, this did not happen.

Five Florida Dispensaries

The “Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014” divided the state into five regions and allowed for one medical marijuana dispensary to be licensed in each region. All together, 28 Florida nurseries applied to be dispensaries here. Because the medical marijuana industry has proven to be so incredibly lucrative in other states, the Florida dispensaries who win these five licenses are projected to become rich fairly quickly. That is why the process it taking so long and the Florida Department of Health (which has the responsibility for picking the licenses) is being so careful — some of the losing dispensaries will almost certainly protest the process and file lawsuits.

When Will The Five Florida Dispensaries Be Chosen

Because of changeover in the regulators assigned to pick the licenses and because of the high risk of lawsuits, it is anticipated that the Florida Department of Health will not come out with its licensing decisions and finally award the five Florida dispensary licenses until Thanksgiving. If, as anticipated, lawsuits are filed by the losing dispensaries, then these licenses would not likely go into effect until the lawsuits are finished, a process that is likely to take many months.

The Number of Florida Dispensaries Is, However, Likely To Expand Greatly

As noted in previous articles, United for Care (see here) is again pushing to have a medical marijuana initiative put onto the November, 2016 Florida ballot. At the time of this writing, the United for Care medical marijuana petition is projected to be again on the Florida ballot and to be passed overwhelmingly by Florida voters. The United for Care petition does not, itself, limit the number of Florida dispensaries, but the Florida legislature would undoubtedly pass a later bill that would implement the United for Care act, and this bill could limit the number of Florida dispensaries to a certain degree. However, there would certainly be many more than five Florida dispensaries here should the United for Care petition pass as expected. In sum, there are certain to be a number of Florida dispensaries licensed in Florida over the next several years. There will not be any Florida dispensaries selling marijuana this year, however, since the licensing process has been delayed and since it would take some months for any Florida dispensaries to grow and harvest their marijuana crops.

We will keep you posted.


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