In the span of just four days, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis both nixed the possibility of federal marijuana decriminalization if he wins the U.S. presidency and also gave a significant boost to his home state’s medical marijuana market by signing a pro-cannabis legislative bill into law.
DeSantis on Monday signed House Bill 387, which both makes permanent the option of renewing medical marijuana patient registrations via remote telemedicine appointments and also opens the door to cannabis cultivation licensing for Black farmers, Florida Politics reported.
The move was a bit of a surprise to some of the bill’s backers, who had speculated that DeSantis might object to reserving business permits for Black farmers, given his opposition writ large to diversity and inclusion programs.
DeSantis’ signature primes the medical marijuana market for further expansion beyond the 22 new permits for which the state recently took applications. There’s expected now to be an additional 11 licenses for vertically integrated MMJ companies issued to Black farmers, on top of the one that was already awarded to Terry Gwinn as part of a class action lawsuit settlement from 1999, Pigford v. Glickman.
That means Florida’s cannabis industry is poised to grow by 33 more companies, up from the current 22 licensed by the state.
The telehealth aspect of the bill also was a relief to many MMJ advocates, as it made permanent a legal provision that originally was spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, to allow Florida’s 828,560 patients to renew their registrations without having to visit a doctor in person. New patients must still visit a physician in person to get an MMJ recommendation under the new law.