As the values of medical-marijuana operations skyrocket, wrangling over Florida’s limited number of pot licenses continues to escalate.

Five wannabe operators who got shut out of the state’s first round of medical-marijuana licenses three years ago and recently were shot down a second time are asking a judge for help.

But first, Administrative Law Judge G.W. Chisenhall has to settle an even more basic argument: How many licenses are up for grabs?

Florida Department of Health officials maintain only two licenses are available under a 2017 law aimed at implementing a voter-approved constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana. The 2017 law was also intended to curb litigation related to the highly sought-after licenses.

But the rejected applicants contend that, if they meet eligibility requirements under the law, they should get licenses, no matter what the number. The five applicants have filed administrative challenges seeking to overturn health officials’ decisions to deny them licenses.

Meanwhile, another batch of prospective medical-marijuana operators trying to intervene in the challenges believe they’re entitled to two of the licenses, thanks to a citrus-related preference carved into the 2017 law.

Chisenhall deferred a ruling about

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