Florida lawmakers OK more money for medical marijuana office
A legislative panel agreed Thursday to boost the budget of the state Office of Medical Marijuana Use by $13.29 million to help pay for issuing new licenses and covering the costs of ongoing litigation.
The Joint Legislative Budget Commission, which includes House and Senate members, unanimously approved $7.34 million to help the office process an estimated 400 applications that are expected as companies compete for four potentially lucrative medical-marijuana licenses.
The office, which is part of the Department of Health, estimates each application will cost $18,354 to process. The office has already approved 14 licenses, with the four new licenses triggered by a provision in state law that allows an increase when the patient registry exceeds 100,000 people.
Lawmakers also approved $1.5 million to pay for ongoing lawsuits against the Office of Medical Marijuana Use. Courtney Coppola, deputy director of the office, said the agency is currently facing 11 lawsuits, and she estimated the office has had “nearly double” that number since 2015.
Another $3.4 million approved by lawmakers will help develop a computer software system to track the distribution of medical marijuana “from seed to sale.”
The 24-hour, statewide tracking system is required by law, with Coppola saying the office is relying