Florida Director of Cannabis, Holly Bell, was one of the keynote speakers for the 2019 Lay of the Land Conference and sat down with us for a candid interview on medical marijuana. As Director of Cannabis for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), she aids and assists the medical marijuana program which is overseen by the Department of Health.Bell says that currently, in the state of Florida, there is a system in place where one can obtain a medical card for medical marijuana. Bell says the department is currently working on rolling out medical marijuana edibles which are made in a kitchen. Food safety falls under the category of agriculture and consumer services which is why Bell is involved. The FDACS rules are written and done for the state's guidelines for medical marijuana. However, Bell says the Florida Department of Health is still in process to create their rules on medical marijuana edibles. Those rules are almost done and the Department of Health is preparing to host workshops for the public to make comments and ask questions. Bell believes the state of Florida is very close to having medical marijuana edibles for patients.
There are currently fourteen licensed Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers or commonly referred to as “MMTCs” and no more licenses have been issued to grow. Section 381.986, Florida Statutes requires that if you have one of those licenses to grow, you also have to be the one who processes it, manufactures it and dispenses it through a dispensary. So we currently have vertical integration of the medical marijuana industry in the state of Florida. Those fourteen MMTC license holders must complete all of those integrated activities within the state and they are allowed to open dispensaries anywhere in the state. Producers can apply for a MMTC license but currently, the Department of Health is not taking applications or issuing new licenses. Florida currently has about 200,000 patients with medical marijuana cards. There is a ratio in the Florida medical marijuana statute that allows the state to issue more licenses so we will see more of that moving forward.