In June of last year, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law a bill that legalizes the use of low-potency marijuana for medical purposes. On Wednesday of this week, the state will begin accepting applications from parties interested in being one of five legal regional growing operations in the state.
It will not be cheap or easy, though. The application fee is $60,063 and the state’s Department of Health will be accepting applications for just three weeks. Applicants also need to have been in the nursery business in Florida continuously for the past 30 years.
The licenses will allow growers to grow and sell low-potency marijuana to a state-licensed dispensing organization. The strain, sometimes called Charlotte’s Web, is high in cannabidiol, or CBD, but low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that produces a high. The drug may be used in oil or vapor form, but may not be smoked.
The law was passed primarily to provide relief for children suffering for severe illnesses such as epilepsy, which affects an estimated 125,000 Florida children.
Last November voters in Florida defeated an initiative that would have legalized medical marijuana use in the state when they failed to reach the 60% affirmative vote that Florida law requires. But 58% did vote in favor, despite the fact that casino magnate Sheldon Adelson ponied up $5.5 million to fund an opposition group. If Florida voters are asked again to approve a full-scale medical marijuana law it is highly likely that it will pass.
In other legal news, the U.S. Senate approved a medical marijuana provision in a funding bill that would prevent the Justice Department from interfering with state medical marijuana laws. The House of Representatives had already approved a similar bill. Senate passage virtually guarantees that the provision will be included in the final budget that Congress sends the president for signature.