Health officials in Florida are unable to meet a Tuesday deadline, mandated by legislature, to give out five new medical cannabis licenses, said the head of state’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use.
Executive Director Christian Bax said that the delays were due to Hurricane Irma along with a pending challenge to a newer law that made the Department of Health rise the number of medical cannabis licenses.
Related Story: Little-Known Health Effects Of Medical Marijuana
The newer law was passed during a June special session and is meant to facilitate a constitutional amendment in November that legalized medical marijuana across the board. And a big part of that law taking effect is the increased number of licensed producers in what could quickly be a burgeoning market.
Overall, the increase was supposed to be to ten licenses by October 3rd. Some licenses have already been awarded.
Bax sent a letter to legislative leaders on Friday that stated his office has, “worked diligently to implement” the new law’s requirements, but that issuing another five licenses by Tuesday would be an “extraordinarily challenging deadline.”
Aside from the deadline being challenging, Bax wrote that the department’s assets were all needed for two weeks due to Irma and no resources could be used toward garnering licenses.
Florida’s medical marijuana industry’s progression has been riddled with legal and legislative lumps since the inception of their low-THC laws in 2014, which had a limited number of patients.
Bax also pointed out that after the initial medical marijuana licenses were issued in 2015, 13 administrative challenges got filed. Two of the same challenges are still in litigation.
Related Story: Why Won’t My Doctor Prescribe Medical Marijuana For Me?
State Sen. Rob Bradley is a Fleming Island Republican who has been a key player in the enactment of the Florida’s medical cannabis laws, he gave Bax’s office great esteem for the revised selection system, but called the new delays a letdown.
“I’m pleased with the rule that set up the process for reviewing and approving applications. It’s a much better process than the low-THC process, and I think it will produce better results,” he told The News Service of Florida on Friday, “I’m disappointed that they didn’t complete their work in a timely manner regarding the approval of the five licenses that are subject to competitive applications. They need to finish their work by the end of the year and before session starts [January].”
At the same time, Bradley conceded, “I’d rather have them right than do it quick.”