Where are Florida’s marijuana licenses?Posted by On

This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.

Florida voters in 2016 overwhelmingly approved Amendment 2, intent on creating a market for medical marijuana to help those suffering from debilitating illnesses. But a Florida appeals court judge rightly chided the state last month month for failing to serve this growing market, in what’s become only the latest betrayal of the voters’ will by the governor and Legislature.

The shot across the bow from First District Court of Appeal Judge Ross Bilbrey’s came as Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration continues to drag its feet on issuing new licenses to medical marijuana operators. As the News Service of Florida explained, a 2017 law creates a framework for the state’s medical marijuana industry. Florida has 22 medical marijuana operators, but the law requires the Department of Health to grant new licenses as the number of patients increases. With more than 700,000 patients, the state should have issued at least another 22 licenses — double the current number — to keep pace. Bilbrey said that potential applicants are “understandably frustrated” and the judge suggested they file legal challenges to force the state to open the permit pipeline.

Since taking office in 2019, the governor has left the application process in limbo, blaming a delay on litigation over the 2017 law. But the Florida Supreme Court upheld the statute last year, and Bilbrey has repeatedly questioned state health…

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