Florida regulators’ decision to increase the medical marijuana business permit fee to $1.33 million is completely legal and within the state’s authority, a judge ruled this week.
The lawsuit, filed by Sanctuary Cannabis, came to naught when Administrative Law Judge William Horgan sided with the state, who ruled that the fee increase “carries out to the letter” the power given to the Florida Department of Health by the state legislature, Orlando Weekly reported.
Sanctuary tried to argue that the hefty increase, which more than doubled the previous fee of $600,000, was “without logic or reason,” but Horgan rebuffed the business.
“When given the legislative directive to adopt rules establishing ‘initial (medical marijuana treatment center) application and biennial renewal fees sufficient to cover the costs of implementing and administering this section,’ it is not arbitrary or capricious to publish” a rule “which does exactly that, and nothing more or less,” Horgan wrote in his ruling, Orlando Weekly reported.
Horgan also rejected an argument by Sanctuary’s attorneys that the fee increase was unwarranted because the Department of Health had collected a surplus of cannabis-related income and still had an extra $16.3 million in its coffers from the 2022-2023 fiscal year. Horgan found that was also within the purview of the agency, which is projected to have a $61 million surplus in the coming fiscal year.
The fee increase – initiated by the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis – appears to carry out a direct agenda by the governor, who said in 2022 that Florida “should charge these people more,” referring to the state’s 24 registered MMJ companies, adding that he would “charge them an arm and a leg.”
DeSantis has also come out in opposition to adult-use marijuana legalization, which could be on the general election ballot next year. The governor is also attempting to win the GOP nomination for president.