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Florida Is Back In The Legalization Game With Regulators Expecting Limited Access Soon

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Earlier this week, a judge in Florida made a decision that led regulators in Florida to announce that they expect to provide access to a limited strain of non-euphoric marijuana for medical purposes by the end of the year.

According to an article in The Miami Herald, the judge’s ruling came after two days of testimony and more than a year after the Legislature had passed the law. The challenge had been brought by Baywood Nurseries of Apopka, whose owners claimed the rule proposed by the state was  unfair and vague. Under the law, nurseries that have been in business for at least 30 years in Florida and grow a minimum of 400,000 plants are eligible to apply for one of five licenses to grow and distribute marijuana within the state. About 100 nurseries meet the criteria.

Within the next few weeks, the Florida Department of Health is expected to start accepting applications from eligible growers for a strain of marijuana that is low in THC and high in cannabadiol, or CBD. After the growers are approved, they would be able to start selling to eligible patients listed on the state-run “compassionate use registry’’.

Rep. Matt Gaetz is one of the sponsors of the failed 2014 legislation that wanted to develop and cultivate the popular “Charlotte’s Web’’ strain of low-THC marijuana to help people suffering from epileptic seizures, cancer and other ailments. He admitted that after this week’s decision, he is “one happy legislator.”

According to the article, legislators planned for the strain to be available by January of this year but regulators had their first rule rejected and that was followed by a slew of legal challenges. But that all changed this week. Following the ruling, the Florida Department Of Health released a statement that said, “Today’s ruling allows the department to move forward with implementing the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, approved by the legislature in 2014. The department remains committed to ensuring safe and efficient access to this product for children with refractory epilepsy and patients with advanced cancer. We are moving swiftly to facilitate access to the product before the end of the year.”

Under the proposed rule, dispensing organizations would have to prove that they would be able to stay in business for at least two years and be able to cover not only the bond and start-up costs. Next up, the rule will be certified and applications will start to be submitted.

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Richard Lowe

Richard Lowe is a 14-year veteran of the financial sector with licenses as a commodity broker (Series 3) and investment advisor representative (IAR Series 65). Along with a focus on raising capital for the firms he was employed with, he also wrote and edited much of the content published by them. He holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts. He has been a longtime advocate for marijuana legalization due to the social injustices associated with marijuana prohibition and the strong potential for the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

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