Florida Regulators Request More Money To Keep Up With MMJ Demand As Gov. DeSantis' Pushes To Increase Fees

Florida cannabis regulators are in need of additional funds to keep the state’s burgeoning medical marijuana market up and running, reported Florida Politics.

To address the growing demand for medical cannabis, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) has incorporated a $6.2 million increase for the Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU) in its state Fiscal Year (FY) 2023-24 legislative budget request (LBR).

Half of the $6.2 million request from OMMU would cover hiring additional 31 full-time employees to serve in its Tallahassee headquarters and new regional offices. The other half is expected to fund costs of work done by outside contractors, such as legal representation; administration of the seed-to-sale tracking systems, production of medical marijuana identification cards, and licensure review, to name a few, which OMMU’s current revenues don’t cover, LBR said.

The document also revealed that OMMU intends to award 23 additional licenses in the current fiscal year to address the growing number of registered patients, which is expected to reach 889,497 by June 30, 2023.

However, according to the state’s projections, with 1,044,072 patients poised to qualify for medical marijuana treatment and register with the state by June 2024, Florida plans to award additional eight medical marijuana treatment center licenses during the next application cycle during  FY 2023-2024.

OMMU also expects “significant” litigation due to the licensure decisions. To address the issue, the lawmakers included an additional $650,000 in nonrecurring funds apart from the $1.5 million it routinely receives in the current year’s budget.

Gov. DeSantis Says MMJ Business Need TO Pay More To Operate In Florida

Meanwhile, the move follows Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’ earlier statement that medical cannabis businesses should pay a lot more for a chance to operate in the Sunshine State legally.

The state “should charge these people more,” he said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “I mean, these are very valuable licenses. I would charge them an arm and a leg. I mean, everybody wants these licenses.”

Interestingly he was not clear enough on who would be impacted most, whether medical marijuana companies that are already operating in the state, such as Trulieve Cannabis Corp. TRUL TCNNF, Red White & Bloom Brands Inc. RWBYFRWB, Columbia Care Inc. CCHW CCHW CCHWF 3LP, Curaleaf Holdings, Inc. CURA CURLF, Fluent FLNT and Verano Holdings Corp. VRNOF, or companies that have yet to do business in Florida but are interested.

Meanwhile, in 2015, medical cannabis operators in Florida had to pay around $60,000 to be allowed to sell low-THC marijuana products. Businesses also have to renew their licenses every two years.

Photo: Courtesy of Ernie114, PeterPike by Pixabay

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