Contentious medical marijuana regulator in Florida stepping down

Florida’s top medical marijuana regulator has resigned after a controversial three-year tenure marked by litigation and a scolding by lawmakers for missing mandated deadlines to issue more MMJ business licenses.

The Florida Department of Health said Friday that Christian Bax’s resignation will take effect Aug. 10. He had led the state’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use since it was created in 2015.

Courtney Coppola, the agency’s deputy director, has been appointed interim director.

At least 11 legal cases and administrative challenges related to the state’s MMJ industry are pending, according to Florida Politics.

The case with the most significant business implications is the constitutional challenge of the state’s ban on smokable medical marijuana.

Last year, lawmakers chastised Bax for being slow to issue additional MMJ business licenses and patient cards.

Despite those issues, Florida’s MMJ industry has been growing quickly. Patient counts as of late June were approaching 130,000, with 2,500 patients being added each week.

Marijuana Business Factbook 2018 projects that MMJ sales in Florida will reach $175 million-$235 million this year.

The state recently announced plans to issue four additional licenses and separately grant a license to an applicant that had successfully challenged the scoring process.

The additions will increase the total number of vertically integrated licenses from 13 to 18. Each license holder can open up to 25 dispensaries across the state although none have opened that many so far.

– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily

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4 comments on “Contentious medical marijuana regulator in Florida stepping down
  1. Diane Gracely on

    I’m so glad Bax has stepped down but now we need someone who can get this mess straightened out. It’s BAD here in Florida. No one tells the truth about what’s going on. There is a huge problem with the cards being issued to the patients. I own a group on Facebook where I have over 3,100 members whom I’ve educated and helped get their cards. I have members contacting me weekly about issues with new applicants getting a card and issues with patients renewing their card.
    AND I am a patient with a problem renewing my card. I renewed my card in May, finally got my new card in the mail in the end of June and went to a dispensary to get some medicine and I was told my card was no good. I wasn’t showing as renewing in the system. I was furious. I came home and called the OMMU. They said they didn’t know what happened but they had to issue me ANOTHER NEW Card. I received a temporary card by email immediately but to this day July 30th I still do NOT have my 2nd new card. Luckily I’ve been going to the dispensary to get medicine and they accept my temporary emailed card and driver’s license. BUT for how long is that going to work? No one knows. I would LOVE to “Work from Home” for the state. I could do a much better JOB then they are doing. I have the experience and the knowledge to do it.
    I walked over 3,100 new patients through the steps to get their cards, starting off with referring them to a specific doctor, to applying for their card, and then educating them about the dispensaries and the cannabis strains and delivery methods. And I continue to help patients every day, 7 days a week through my groups on Facebook. I’ve even created videos to show people step by step what to do. I love helping people and it would be nice to get PAID for what I do.

    • Connie on

      I applied on July 19th thru a doctor, that my primary care doctor referred me to. I am waiting to receive my temporary medical card by email.

  2. Dennis W on

    I applied on 9-8-18. I paid online with a valid DISCOVER credit card and they confirmed it on 9-17 that they indeed had processed my payment. Strangely enough my card company reported they had their money almost immediately. Why does it take that long to process a credit card payment? That is ridiculous. I was told that after the payment is processed it can take up to 5-7 days more for them to actually approve your application. Apparently they don’t even start looking at it until they have their payment confirmation. My application is fully filled out and they have even put my doctors order online already. I’m just waiting for someone to approve it. Its 9-21-18 today and still no e-mail giving my temporary access. I am sure that some people there are working hard to facilitate this but from a patient’s point of view this is very frustrating.

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