Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s administration appealed a judge’s order to license new businesses in one of the country’s hottest medical marijuana markets – or risk being held in contempt.

Scott’s administration filed the notice to appeal Friday less than three hours before a 5 p.m. ET deadline, the News Service of Florida reported.

The governor, who is in a tight race to unseat U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat, consulted with Republican legislators and MMJ operators, according to the news service.

Here’s the situation:

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  • Leon County Circuit Charles Dodson recently ruled the state law restricting the number of medical marijuana businesses is unconstitutional.
  • Florida has approved licenses for 14 vertically integrated MMJ operators, each of which can open up to 25 dispensaries across the state. But the state has been slow to approve additional licenses.
  • The judge’s ruling called for the state to license additional MMJ operators, including Tampa-based Florigrown, which was the plaintiff in the case.
  • The judge’s ruling, if upheld, would open Florida’s market to more MMJ businesses and boost competition. “Obviously the current license holders want to protect their interests and value, which is based on this limited licensing scheme,” Florida cannabis attorney Matthew Ginder of Greenspoon Marder told Marijuana Business Daily.