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Pot licenses to be awarded this fall, according to Department of Health

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(Getty Images)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A day after facing criticism for the pace of carrying out a 2014 medical-marijuana law, the Florida Department of Health said Wednesday it expects to issue key licenses to five nurseries this fall.

A letter from department General Counsel Nichole Geary to House Health Quality Chairman Cary Pigman, R-Avon Park, did not give a specific target date for issuing the licenses. During a meeting of Pigman's subcommittee Tuesday, Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, expressed frustration with how the law has been carried out.

Steube took issue, in part, with the department being unable to provide a timeline for issuing licenses to nurseries that will grow, process and dispense limited types of cannabis in different regions of the state. The law was passed to allow medical marijuana that purportedly does not get users high, with the types of cannabis low in euphoria-inducing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and high in cannabadiol, or CBD.

The measure passed after heavy lobbying by parents of children who suffer from severe forms of epilepsy. But legal battles and other regulatory issues have delayed the availability of the products.

Earlier Wednesday, state Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Fort Walton Beach Republican who was an important player in passing the 2014 law, said the department has indicated that the licensing decisions could be made in a matter of "days or weeks."