Florida legislature approves new medical marijuana regulations

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The two chambers of the Florida legislature finally reached a deal on medical marijuana and passed a compromise bill Friday to implement the wildly successful MMJ ballot measure that 70% of voters approved last November.

The measure is now headed to the desk of Gov. Rick Scott.

Although the bill bans smoking cannabis – which all but assures at least one lawsuit will be filed by patient advocates – the measure will significantly expand the number of licensed businesses allowed to partake in the state’s full-fledged marijuana industry. Unlike the smokable ban, however, restrictions on vaping and edibles were removed from the measure, the Sun Sentinel reported.

The bill adds 10 new licenses for producing and distributing MMJ with a cap of 25 dispensaries per permit, according to the Sun Sentinel.

The number of fresh opportunities would be tempered initially, however, because a majority of the new licenses would be earmarked for previous applicants and special business interests such as citrus growers.

Five licenses will be issued by July and the rest by October. After that, for every additional 100,000 patients who register in the MMJ program, four more licenses will be issued and existing licensees will be allowed to open another four dispensaries.

So, for the foreseeable future, there will be 17 licensed medical cannabis producers with up to 425 dispensaries.