Florida will see a nearly two-fold increase in the number of licensed medical marijuana providers under a new state medical marijuana law that goes into effect on July 31, 2017. Under the law, there will be 3,525 licensed providers in the state, with 2,000 of those expected to be active by the end of 2016. These numbers are based upon the number of medical marijuana providers registered in Florida as of February 1, 2017.

The Florida state legislature has taken up a bill to increase the number of doctors who can provide medical marijuana prescriptions, but the new limit will bring the state’s total number of medical marijuana providers down to fewer than half the number of Florida physicians who now have the ability to write the drug.

After the Florida Supreme Court upheld the state’s model for selling medical marijuana from seeds, the Department of Health is ready to issue 15 new licenses to treatment centers.

Industry officials believe the expanded market will increase competition and benefit patients, but some lawmakers are skeptical that the new players will have a real impact on drug costs and availability.

There are more than 575,000 medical marijuana patients in Florida, and the ever-growing number of patients has opened the door for 15 new MMTC licenses.

When the number of patients reaches 600,000, a total of 19 licenses will be available.

That frankly doubles the size of the industry, said Jeff Sharkey of the Medical Marijuana Business Association.

Sharkey expects these permits to be issued within 18 months.

I think it will have a great impact. I mean, you’ll see people become very competitive in this area, Sharkey said.

PORTER

But of the 22 current licensees, nine have produced little or nothing.

That’s one reason why Senator Jeff Brandes doubts that increasing the number of licensees will have a big effect on patients.

Florida will be flooded with medical marijuana licenses. The problem is that no one wants to invest in building the facilities and then in the retail and processing facilities needed to make it all work, Brandes said.

Once the Supreme Court upholds the state’s medical marijuana law, lawmakers will have to act to repeal the MMTC’s expensive but lucrative obligation to control every step of the process, from seed to sale.

Shortly after taking office in 2019, Governor Ron DeSantis expressed disdain for the vertically integrated medical marijuana system created by lawmakers, saying they had essentially created a cartel.

PORTER

However, legislative attempts in recent years to abolish the seed-for-sale model have been unsuccessful.

State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith hopes the issue will be considered by the legislature next year.

We need more competition because it lowers the cost of products for patients, Rep. Smith.

The Ministry of Health has informed us that it is in the process of introducing an application process for the 15 licences currently available, but has not yet begun to accept applications.

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