Florida CBD Dispensaries may open in early 2016

After months of delay, Florida appears to be on a timetable for the initiation of its CBD program.  The state Department of Health will accept state license applications for three weeks – from mid June through the first week of July.

Like New York state, Florida is only granting five business licenses to produce CBD (unlike Florida so far, New York has also currently planned 20 dispensaries for the whole state).  New York also has a THC market and is now lining up to accept applicants.

Winners in Florida will be notified by August 8.

Companies who receive the permits will have to build out growing and processing facilities as well as produce non-smokeable high CBD products.  This means at least early next year, the first medically produced CBD in Florida could be available to consumers.

The Florida legislature passed CBD reform last summer in a move many advocates viewed as a way to head off greater reform demanded by voters at the ballot box last fall.  The effort to change Florida’s constitution to legalize the full plant narrowly failed in November.  Although 58% of voters approved the change, this was just shy of the 60% approval the measure had to gain because it would have changed the state constitution.  The independent campaign in-state to change the law also became the most expensive cannabis state ballot campaign to date and for the first time, raised the issue of marijuana reform appearing on national party tickets.   That said, organizers have so far failed to mount an effective ballot challenge for 2015, but it remains to be seen if Florida like California and Nevada organizing state ballots for 2016, can further expand the market.

Florida’s licensing selection process is also controversial because the legislature limited eligible applicants to growers who had been in business for 30 years and have the capacity to grow at least 400,000 plants.  Implementation of the law has, for this reason, been repeatedly delayed by lawsuits seeking to rewrite the regulations.

At least unlike many “southern” states, Florida’s medical community will have some access to the drug.  In Georgia, where “medical CBD” legislation was passed earlier in the spring, patients can still not legally grow or buy a cannabinoid which is now technically “legal.”  It is also unclear whether federal attempts to at least sell CBD over state lines will proceed this year on Capitol Hill.

However, in a year where reform has hit a few speed bumps and many logistical challenges all over the country, Florida’s attempts to move ahead with selecting its first ganjapreneurs means that a very limited, smokeless CBD market moves forward in the Sunshine State.

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