Nurseries hoping to grow and dispense cannabis under Florida’s low-THC marijuana law will have to wait until at least March to make their pitch to the Department of Health. Patients will have to wait even longer—until those nurseries can deliver a product suitably low in THC.
Department officials met with stakeholders Tuesday in Orlando. This was the first meeting since many of the Department’s previous rules were invalidated by an administrative law judge in November.
The meeting rehashed many of the same issues covered in the three rulemaking workshops held prior to the court challenge. But new Office of Compassionate Use director Patricia Nelson made it clear the law’s implementation will need to wait on the Legislature.
This is because the total cost of complying with the Department’s regulations is likely to be more than $1 million over the next five years—triggering a requirement for legislative ratification. This means both chambers of the Legislature and the Governor will need to sign off on the rules before they can go into effect.
“Which could be March 6th,” Nelson says, alluding to the opening week of the Legislative session. Whether rules are ready at the outset or not, Nelson says the Department is hoping to finish its work before lawmakers head home, because if it doesn’t, “we’re pushing it back a whole ‘nother year.”
But Nelson was quick to point out her office isn’t returning to square one. “We are not starting all over again—we had to start all over again with some of the filing… some of the steps that are required for the administrative law process, but we’ll incorporate the entire previous record into this record—we don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” Nelson says.