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Lawmakers Want to Hold DOH Pay Until They Finish Implementing Medical Marijuana Law

February 1st, 2018 by Jake Stofan

Over 20,000 patients qualified to receive medical marijuana have yet to be issued ID cards.

Lawmakers say until the Department of Health clears the backlog, top brass won’t get paid.

 

“The Legislature has done everything in their power to get them access to this and it’s the agency who’s supposed to implement it that’s been dragging their feet,” said Representative Jason Brodeur.

An amendment added on the the House’s appropriations package would hold $1.9 million in salaries and benefits in next year’s budget.

 

“I think it will get their attention that this is the law,” said Brodeur.

The Senate may do the same.

 

“It’s certainly something we should consider along with other measures to make sure that DOH does the job,” said Senate Appropriations Chair Senator Rob Bradley.

Along with clearing the backlog, the department also would have to issue five new growers licenses to get the funds back.

The Department of Health cited one particular lawsuit for delaying the issuance of new grow licenses, but that lawsuit was settled a month ago.

The department says an court ordered injunction is preventing them from issuing grow licenses.

However, it only applies to one license.

Advocates say the department is still  preventing other companies from applying for licenses that should have been issued in October.

 

“Here we are four months later and there’s no clear indication of when that’s going to happen,” said Jeff Sharkey with the Medical Marijuana Business Association.

The department also disputes, via email, the existence of a backlog saying, “At any given time, there are 3,500 or so applications in processing. We would not characterize that as a backlog.”

The DOH also noted in its response that not all patients in the registry apply for a card.

DOH is being called before legislative committee next week.

Lawmakers hope the department will have answers by then.

The Florida Cannabis Action Network says it rejects lawmaker’s decision to point the finger at the Department of Health.

The organization says unrealistic deadlines set in the law set the Department up for failure.

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