Florida Health Department approves seventh marijuana license

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Less than two weeks before Florida’s constitutional amendment expanding the legal use of medical marijuana takes effect, the state’s Department of Health has approved a seventh license and could be on the verge of adding at least one more.

Department spokeswoman Sarah Revell said they have reached an agreement with McRory’s Sunny Hill Nursery for the seventh license. The nursery is affiliated with GrowHealthy and will operate an indoor facility in Lake Worth.

The department also agreed to settle with Plants of Ruskin and 3 Boys Farm. Both nurseries are working on potential terms to present to the department. That would resolve the last of the 13 administrative challenges filed by nurseries not selected for the first five licenses last December by the Office of Compassionate Use.

Through settlements and administrative challenges, two additional licenses have been awarded so far. The state’s Division of Administrative Hearings ruled in February that a Northeast Florida nursery should have received a license due to a background check being wrongly disqualified.

Amendment 2, which was approved by 71 percent of Florida voters, takes effect on Jan. 3. It allows higher-strength marijuana to be used for a wider list of medical ailments once a new set of rules are adopted and implemented.

The state legislature and Department of Health have six months to revise current rules and must implement them within nine months. The Florida Senate’s Health Policy Committee conducted a workshop hearing last week to begin the process.

The current law – which was approved by the state legislature in 2014 – allows non-smoked, low-THC pot for patients with cancer or ailments that cause chronic seizures or severe spasms. It was expanded in March to allow patients with terminal conditions access to higher strength cannabis.

The March legislation also ensures that once the patient registry reaches 250,000, an additional three licenses will be made available, one of which will be designated for black farmers.

The state registry currently has 340 physicians and 1,495 registered patients but state officials anticipate a significant increase once the amendment is implemented.

Four organizations have been approved for distributing authorization and are doing in-home delivery throughout the state.