One of Florida’s 24 medical marijuana businesses has filed suit against the state over its whopping $1.33 million biennial licensing fee, which was raised in December from $60,000 under the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The suit, filed by Sanctuary Cannabis, slams the fee hike as an “exponential increase” that can’t be justified because of how much in patient and business registration fees the state already rakes in, the News Service of Florida reported.
A state Health Department budget request showed that the agency – which oversees the medical marijuana industry in Florida – pulled in “$14.9 million in application and renewal fees for licenses and nearly $65 million from patients and caregivers during the 2022-2023 fiscal year, which ended in June,” the News Service reported.
The Health Department also collected cannabis industry fines and testing lab fees to the tune of $84 million in the most recent fiscal year, and projects cannabis-related revenues of $114 million for the 2024-2025 fiscal year.
There are 855,267 active MMJ patients in Florida as of Nov. 3, according to the latest program update from the Health Department, and each of those patients pays $75 for their registration.
The department also had a surplus of $16.3 million for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, according to the news outlet.
Santuary Cannabis argued in its lawsuit that the new license fee amount was chosen arbitrarily and with no good financial justification.
“In light of the department’s own income and projections, the department cannot reasonably assert that this exponential renewal fee increase is necessary to keep its operations afloat,” the suit argues.
The fee hike came at the apparent behest of DeSantis, who said in 2022 that Florida “should charge these people more,” referring to MMJ companies, adding that he would “charge them an arm and a leg.”
DeSantis, a Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential nomination, has also come out against federal marijuana legalization.