Proposed Florida MMJ rules would prevent new entrants

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Maybe there won’t be many business opportunities in Florida’s new medical cannabis industry after all.

State health officials have proposed rules that would give the seven companies currently licensed under Florida’s CBD-focused program entire control of the larger medical marijuana market.

The draft regulations would, in effect, close off the state’s MMJ industry to new growers and dispensary operators hoping to capitalize on the passage of a bill last November legalizing full-strength medical cannabis for a broad swath of patients.

Currently, seven companies have approval to produce and sell primarily CBD-based products in Florida, though they can provide higher-THC medicines to terminally ill patients.

The new law passed in November will create a more traditional, full-strength MMJ program with a broader list of conditions.

Many entrepreneurs are hoping the state will increase the number of business licenses, as hundreds of thousands of new patients in the state now qualify for MMJ. But the draft regulations would dash those hopes.

Another proposed rule would give the Florida Board of Medicine, not individual doctors, the authority to decide which patients qualify for treatment with medical cannabis.

Some observers argue that this regulation could make it more difficult for patients to get MMJ recommendations, which in turn could hamper the market.

Florida’s health department has until July to finalize the rules governing the new MMJ program, the Bradenton Herald reported. The newspaper noted that state lawmakers can intervene and offer direction – a step legislators are expected to take.

The health department will hold public hearings during the second week of February.