Medical marijuana advocates say patient access problems could have been avoided

State law says 4 new grow licenses should have been approved in October

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The state Department of Health still hasn’t issued four new grow licenses state law said that should have been approved in October.

Advocates said it’s hurt the availability of medical marijuana.
“The State of Florida needs to immediately open the licensure program to as many people as can compete in the market as possible," said Jodi James with the Florida Cannabis Action Network.

Joshua Lavy suffers from cerebral palsy. He had to stop using medical marijuana entirely because he couldn’t be sure he’d get a consistent product.
“I can't take one medicine one week and then something different the next," Lavy said. "It'll affect me in school it'll affect me at work."

Lavy also says long wait times for card approvals and renewals deterred him from continuing to use cannabis as a treatment.
The DOH has blamed pending lawsuits on its inability to issue new licenses.
Two lawsuits on the department's lap are John Morgan’s "No Smoke is a Joke" suit and Tampa night club owner Joseph Redner's suit to allow him to grow and juice his own plants.

Advocates say if patients had been allowed to grow and smoke their own medicine in the first place, patient access wouldn’t have ever been an issue.
“Tens of thousands of patients would have brought in harvests for themselves while we waited on the Legislature, while we waited on the Department of Health," James said.
Advocates hope that while the lawsuits make their way through the courts the Department of Health speeds up its approval process for growers.
The number of card-holding patients as of Friday afternoon is just shy of 81,000. When the registry reaches the 100,000 mark, it will require that an additional four grower licenses be granted.