Florida Approves 5 Nurseries To Grow Medical Marijuana | Tampa Bay Times

State health officials announced Monday that five Florida nurseries have been chosen to cultivate and distribute the first legal marijuana in the state, opening the door to the sale and distribution of the non-euphoric strains next year. Under the law, applicants had to have been in business in Florida for at least 30 years and grow a minimum of 400,000 plants at the time they applied. Many of the five nurseries teamed with consultants, investors, security firms, technology companies and out-of-state pot growers to develop their application. Each was chosen from a pool of 28 applicants from around the state by a panel of three state reviewers, based on rules set by a panel that included five growers. Four of the nurseries represented on the selection committee Costa Farms, Hackney Nursery, Chestnut Hill Farms and Knox Nursery also were winners in the application process, immediately drawing fire from other applicants. “Today’s award of licenses will raise serious questions about improper influence and self-dealing,” said Taylor Patrick Biehl, a lobbyist for the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida whose consulting firm represented three of the applicants. “Maybe they learned something the rest of us didn’t in terms of putting the applications together,” said Jeff Sharkey, who heads the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida. “Every applicant will be reviewing the scoring and making some decisions in terms of how to proceed.” Each of the growers now will have 10 business days to post a $5 million performance bond to show it is serious about obtaining the license. If any of the applicants misses that deadline, the applicant with the next highest score in that region will be selected, the Department of Health said in a press release. The clock also starts Monday for growers.

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