Patients all over the state of Florida were celebrating last year when the first ever medical marijuana law was passed – unfortunately it seems we all celebrated just a little too soon as things have been delayed multiple times over the course of the year.
Originally, the Charlotte’s Web low-THC, high-CBD strain was supposed to be available to patients as soon as January 1st of this year. However the whole thing started off with a stall when the idea of selecting nurseries to grow the plant by a lottery was contested.
After some time in court, a judge ruled that there would be a panel of representatives to determine which of the nurseries would be awarded a license. The current law only allows five nurseries in the entire state – meaning when 28 businesses applied there was a lot of competition to sift through.
To narrow down the number of nurseries which could apply, the law was changed to state that the nursery had to have been in business for over 30 years and currently be cultivating a minimum of 400,000 plants.
Just last week (Monday Nov. 23rd) the department of health sent out letters of acceptance to the selected five nurseries.
And the winners are…
Chestnut Hill Tree for Northeast Florida
Hackney Nursery for Northwest Florida
Knox Nursery Inc. for Central Florida
Alpha Foliage for Southwest Florida
Costa Nursery Farm for Southeast Florida
There was one nursery chosen for every region in the state – though the nurseries can sell the marijuana throughout the entire state. I would imagine each nursery will set up shop in their own regions and counties to start and migrate throughout the state over the coming years as the laws change.
Each of the selected nurseries still have to put down a $5 million performance bond to ensure their license. If they do not do so within 10 days then the nursery will be replaced with the runner-up for their region – so even though these are the nurseries to be chosen there is still a slim chance for those who were almost picked to get in.
Once they make this payment nurseries will have exactly 75 days to request cultivation authority. Once approved they will have 210 days to start cultivating the low-THC strains. If these nurseries wait until the last minute then we could still be looking at June of next year before the Charlotte’s Web Strain is growing and another couple months until the medicine is available to patients who have been waiting far too long.
One of the selected nurseries – Costa Farms – has already taken the time to promise that they will do their best to ensure the medical marijuana is accessible to patients as soon as possible. So hopefully they make good on that promise – it would be nice to see this move forward without any further interruptions.
Since there is already talk of expanding the qualifying conditions to the currently existing law, as well as the United for Care initiative to fully legalize medical marijuana they have also had to consider upping the number of nurseries allowed to grow the plants. There has also been mention of bringing in higher THC content strains for cancer patients who rely on the benefits of THC.
I think all this will be in the works within the next year if all goes well, or at least that’s what I’m hoping. If that’s the case, those nurseries who were not chosen the first time around should have a head start in the application process for next time.