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Dep’t of Health announces new legal pot director

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

In the wake of the exit of Patti Nelson — who had served at the helm of the state Department of Health’s nascent Office of Compassionate Use since its inception in 2014 — the agency named a replacement just two days later.

Taking over for Nelson will be Christian Bax, who joins the office by way of CBK Consulting, a firm that the lawyer and MBA founded to facilitate medical cannabis programs akin to the one Florida enshrined into law in 2014.

Bax studied economics at the University of Alabama before receiving a JD at Florida State University and business degree at Babson College.

According to a release Wednesday, DOH “is confident his educational and professional experience make him the right choice to get this product to children with intractable epilepsy and people with advanced cancer as safely and quickly as possible.”

That sentiment comports with the feelings of many in the medical marijuana community, who were concerned that Nelson’s exit would mean a cumbersome delay in implementation of the state’s Charlotte’s Web regime.

Bax will start work at his new post effective tomorrow, Thursday July 23 — a short turnaround indeed.

The move comes as 28 applications await review by a state panel who will award five licenses to manufacture medical marijuana for the state — the first time in state history any such license has been granted.

Nelson left DOH earlier this week in favor of a post in the governor’s Office of Policy and Budget.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at

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