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Politics

State to Miss Deadline for New Medical Marijuana Licenses

October 1, 2017 - 2:45pm

After months of waiting, five new medical marijuana growers won’t be getting their state-issued licenses to cultivate and sell the state’s newest prescription drug on time. On Friday, state officials said Florida will miss the deadline to dole out five new licenses to cultivate and sell medical marijuana in the Sunshine State. 

According to a recently-passed law, state health officials were supposed to distribute 10 medical marijuana licenses by Oct. 3 -- Tuesday -- to new growers attempting to capitalize on the state’s fast-growing and highly competitive medical marijuana industry.

Now it appears those growers hoping to cash in on the growing market will have to wait a little longer for their “in” to the medical pot business. 

Christian Bax, the executive director of the state’s medical marijuana office, said Friday there would be a delay in issuing the licenses in part due to Hurricane Irma and a recently-filed lawsuit from a black farmer which alleges a portion of the state’s new medical marijuana law is unconstitutional.

Last month, a black farmer from Panama City filed a lawsuit against the legislation in Leon County circuit court, alleging the state’s newest law on medical marijuana is unconstitutional because it is “unfairly” narrow. 

The farmer, Columbus Smith, said there are so many restrictions that only a very small number of black farmers can qualify to get one of the coveted licenses to grow medical pot in Florida.

In a letter sent to state lawmakers, Bax implied Smith’s lawsuit was, in part, why the state was behind in issuing the new licenses. 

“The OMMU (Office of Medical Marijuana Use) is aware of its important role in continuing to move this process forward to provide patient access as quickly and safely as possible,” Bax wrote. “However, recent history has emphasized the importance of getting the MMTC (medical marijuana treatment center) licensure process right the first time.” 

State legislators gathered in Tallahassee over the summer to create a regulatory system to expand the use of medical marijuana after voters passed Amendment 2 last fall -- but many insiders have been apprehensive about the licensing process, questioning whether the process would actually give each grower a fair and equal shot at one of the license slots. 
 
“It’s not just unlikely. It is literally impossible,” said Ben Pollara, medical marijuana advocate and campaign manager for United For Care, of the Oct. 3 deadline.


One of the key components of the new law: Florida would dole out 10 highly sought-after licenses to growers by Oct. 3 -- and one of those licenses would go to a black farmer who was part of a 30 year-old lawsuit. 
 
To qualify, black farmers must have participated in the Pigford v. Glickman case, a lengthy lawsuit which began in 1981 and spanned nearly two decades.
 
 In the 1980s, black farmers alleged the U.S. Department of Agriculture racially discriminated against black farmers in a myriad of ways, marginalizing minority farmers by increasing land tax, delaying loans until the end of planting season and only approving a small amount of black farmers’ loan requests.
 
Black farmers struggled to succeed in the farming industry and as a result, the number of black farmers plummeted in the 1990s -- by nearly 100 percent. 
 
Who, exactly, qualifies for the license has been a mystery -- Florida has apparently been looking to even the playing field for farmers of color when it comes to growing medical marijuana by diversifying the pool to make the process fairer for minorities. 
 
Smith’s lawsuit isn’t the only one raging on in the state court system. According to Bax, 13 legal challenges have been filed against the agency since the first licenses were issued in 2015 and two of those suits are ongoing. 
 
Health officials issued an emergency rule last week establishing the application process for vendors looking to obtain a license to grow and distribute the drug, using outside experts to “blind test” the applications.
 
State law requires the state to issue more licenses when the state’s medical marijuana registry reaches 100,000. The number of patients in the Compassionate Use Registry currently hovers around 38,000. 
 
A new deadline for the licenses has yet to be determined. 
 

 

 

 

Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.

 

 

Comments

This is one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever read. Not only is the government, Actively dismantling the will of the people, they are also colluding with a very small number of companies, to spread out these licenses ( I am from Denver, where there are hundreds of mom-and-pop dispensaries, and it boosts the economy big time) . Additionally, they’re trying to Leverage the value of these licenses to pay off, three decade old affirmative action debts? Strange.

As usual in our State Capitol, getting our Government to do something that WE THE PEOPLE ~W~A~N~T~ is like "Herding Cats". I'm getting really fed up with ALL of these "Legislators". Lots of older people and Vets fight PAIN daily, and voted to pass this Law - instead, they kicked it down the Road...

I'm a retired LEO so, keep on preaching.....also, as a disabled veteran pot assists me in relaxing and staying calm. I'm all for legalization of medical marijuana, including the type that is smokeable.

No surprise here... It is something the legislature never wanted to see anyway, so dragging their feet is their passive-aggressive way of stalling the measure. These are the idiots you voted for...

And will vote for again.

Apparently, the "political auction & sale" is still ongoing... (Must "feed" those campaign coffers regardless of impending unseen consequences)...

Wow the Florida medical marijuana system is behind again? I'm so shocked. This is unexpected for this system to be catered towards people making money instead of people getting effecting treatments that are widely available around the same country we currently live in... But no, let's just keep the high costs as long as possible. I'm sure everyone that has a medical card is wealthy. I swear this shit is so fucking obvious it's crazy. It's about the money. The "black farmer lawsuit" was a convenient excuse. Why don't we just call him a negro farmer since we have to make such a big point that he is a black man.

TY !!! First thing I saw.." a black farmer".. WTF !!??? It appears again that the law only applies to some...the DOH appears to be above the law. Why is there a deadline ? It should be called a "live line" . The time limit is alive as can grow as DOH deems fit. Why is that deadline even in the law if it's not going to be adhered to ? I have been working on this issue for 40+ years since college in Orlando. I see progress, but very slow progress and only being made due to attrition. When the old white grey heads are dead, we will see our day, And trust me peeps ..patience..they WILL be dead and gone and their legacy will be one of ignorance, non inclusiveness,discrimination, criminal, hate. WE SHALL OVERCOME !!!

As someone who needs medical marijuana and may not be able to afford it due to the way the Florida law is written, I just want to say that the way to deal with the grower entitlement issue is to let patients grow their own. In my own case I can imagine the eventual possibility of having to calculate whether it is cheaper to buy legal defense in case I get caught growing my own or cheaper to try to access it legally via the ridiculous bureaucracy that Florida has set up to manage use and create profit for a handful of people. In the final analysis there is one over arching truth here, and that is that adults have the right to access the healing methods they prefer. Marijuana is safer than either tobacco or alcohol, and certainly safer than prescription drugs; it is part of an ancient time-tested healing tradition; it does not induce violence as both drugs and alcohol do; and we have receptors in our brains for some of the compounds in the plants, suggesting that we are supposed to consume it. The state never had any business interfering with our access to this plant and should get the heck out of our personal choices.

At 25 dollars for just 1.4g (Vape cup) this system is outrageously overpriced. It is incredibly difficult to believe that them interfering has any other purpose than to grab as much money from this system as possible. While Marijuana may be a large amount safer than the prescriptions that are so widely pushed in this country, the issues lie with the greedy state govs giving licenses to people that will benefit the governer / high-up elected officials (This has been verified, and is why they are outsourcing the staff that are giving out new licenses). When 71% of voters said yes to the prop last November, I don't think even one voter assumed it would be at 10x the cost of any other state

Still can't understand how smoking pot is any safer than cigarettes! Combustion byproducts are almost identical.

I submit... "... 80 to 90 percent of lung cancer cases are caused by tobacco smoke. Further, tobacco is associated with over 400,000 annual deaths in the United States alone. Cannabis consumption has yet to be conclusively associated with a single death. A 2005 study suggests that cannabis and cigarette smoke are not equally carcinogenic. Tobacco smoke also contains N-nitrosamines, which are considered the primary contributors to tobacco-related cancers. Cannabis does not contain N-nitrosamines. Cigarette smoke also contains nicotine, whereas cannabis smoke contains cannabinoids. Nicotine consumption is associated with an increased risk of developing insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and thyroid problems. Cannabis compounds are currently being studied as a prospective treatment for type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. While it was commonly thought that the tar and carcinogenic molecules in smoke are the primary cause of tobacco-related cancer, recent studies suggest that nicotine may actually enhance tumor development. The carcinogens in cigarette smoke are known to not only contribute to lung cancer, but to colon and rectal cancers as well. In contrast, the cannabinoids in cannabis have shown protective, anti-tumor effects in lung, breast, prostate, skin, and other forms of the disease...." hth

I submit... "... 80 to 90 percent of lung cancer cases are caused by tobacco smoke. Further, tobacco is associated with over 400,000 annual deaths in the United States alone. Cannabis consumption has yet to be conclusively associated with a single death. A 2005 study suggests that cannabis and cigarette smoke are not equally carcinogenic. Tobacco smoke also contains N-nitrosamines, which are considered the primary contributors to tobacco-related cancers. Cannabis does not contain N-nitrosamines. Cigarette smoke also contains nicotine, whereas cannabis smoke contains cannabinoids. Nicotine consumption is associated with an increased risk of developing insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and thyroid problems. Cannabis compounds are currently being studied as a prospective treatment for type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. While it was commonly thought that the tar and carcinogenic molecules in smoke are the primary cause of tobacco-related cancer, recent studies suggest that nicotine may actually enhance tumor development. The carcinogens in cigarette smoke are known to not only contribute to lung cancer, but to colon and rectal cancers as well. In contrast, the cannabinoids in cannabis have shown protective, anti-tumor effects in lung, breast, prostate, skin, and other forms of the disease...." hth

Medical marijuana is used in many forms such lotions, oils, tinctures, vapes, and yes smoking too, It is unlikely that the products of combustion are exactly the same because the leaves of the tobacco plant have microscopic structures on the underside that capture particulates that carry alpha radiation particles from the soil. Those particles get inhaled during smoking and are carried to the lymph nodes where they remain, radiating the adjacent tissues. This is believed to be part of the ways tobacco smoking causes cancer. I haven't heard of the marijuana plant having this problem. Apart from that, since the two plants are quite different it is unlikely that each produces the exact same products of combustion as the other. Last time I read anything about it the release of some 30,000 compounds (many carcinogenic) during tobacco smoking was temperature dependent, some coming out only when the cigarette is "idling" and others only when the tobacco burns hotter during inhaling. And then there is the issue of pesticides on tobacco plants, and processing chemicals. Not sure about marijuana plants and insecticide use, but I assume organic is safer no matter how the plant is consumed.

Well stated Sue. The bonehead will never be flexible as evidenced in his statement that most combustable products are almost identical. Unless he's in Jr High, and hasn't taken science, he will never understand.

Actually I'm a retired firefighter/medic the difference between pot and cigarettes. Cigarettes also contain nicotine, pot has THC. All the other combustion byproducts are the same. So bonehead I wanted to see if any of you stoners understood smoking is smoking doesn't really matter what the substance is!

Watch out everyone this guy's a retired firefighter/medic, he knows everything. Haha, "stoners"?????? You are so uneducated. 21 years since California passed their first medical Cannabis laws, you are way behind the times buddy. Point blank for ya, tobacco causes cancer cells to form, Cannabinoids from Cannabis kill cancer cells while at the same time protecting healthy cells. Your claim of "smoking is smoking" is bogus! Go to school, do research, stop with your completely pointless and uneducated posts.

And just look where California has been heading for so very many years: "circling the bowl down into the toilet" (apparently this is what the old prophesy meant when it claimed California would suddenly break off into the ocean along the San Andreus Fault). THIS just might be (what we call) "the clincher"! Must Florida follow along "Lemming-like" in 'Liberal-Democrat-fashion'? ! ?

A firefighter? HA, gee, he knows so much.....NOT!

In my mind those that obstruct this medicine to get to the people must be on the payroll of the illicit cartels who prefer to keep it a crime so that they may continue to reap the profits I hope they rot in Hell.

A dream world - full of promises - devoid of reality and realization.

Hey Robert, you just covered Washington D C and ALL of Tallahassee! Good job!

ALL dreamers and not doer's!

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