In the latest legal battle over Florida’s budding medical cannabis industry, a higher court judge has affirmed the state’s position in dismissing a complaint from a prospective medical cannabis grower but took the state to task for delays in granting new licenses.

1st District Court of Appeals Judge Ross Bilbrey criticized leaders at the Florida Department of Health and the state government, more generally, over its “ongoing failure” to open application windows for Medical Marijuana Treatment Center operators to seek a license to sell.

While he concurred with the main 1st Circuit opinion, Judge Bilbrey agreed that the appellant, in this case, Louis Del Favero Orchids, Inc., was “understandably frustrated” with FDOH’s lack of application access. The MMTC licenses are required to operate, writing in his concurrent opinion that multiple potential MMTC licensees had been “frustrated by the delay,” citing an article on a Black Farmer in Lakeland that had been unable to get a license despite six years of legalized medical cannabis.

There are currently 22 licensed and approved MMTCs in Florida, according to the Florida Office of Medical Marijuana Use. In addition, there are a reported 475 distributors in the state, according to OMMU. Medical cannabis has been legal in Florida since 2017. The FDOH issued an emergency rule to close application windows in September 2017, leading to the current application for license situation.

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