Florida's Medical Marijuana Chief stepping down

Posted by Sagar Satapathy on July 30, 2018.

Florida's medical marijuana chief Christian Bax is stepping down after three years as a target of ire amid delays and disputes clouding state’s nascent medical-marijuana industry.

Legislators, patients and “ganjapreneurs” have widely criticized Bax, a lawyer, for trying to establish a footprint in the state’s restricted and intensely competitive medical-marijuana market. 

The critiques were amplified after Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment broadly legalizing medical marijuana in 2016. 

Bax, in his resignation letter to Department of Health Chief of Staff Cindy Dick dated Friday, said “he will be leaving no later than August 10.” 

“It has been an incredible honor to have served the department and the people of Florida in the task of building something entirely new in this state,” Bax wrote. 

Medical marijuana has landed in trouble in Florida ever since lawmakers first legalized non-euphoric cannabis in 2014. The rollout of the industry has faced a series of delays because of regulatory and legal challenges, and Bax and his office have borne the brunt of the blame. 

Some of the major allegations which were leveled against Bax included that patients have complained about lengthy wait times to get required ID cards processed. Besides, administrative law judges have repeatedly rejected health officials’ decisions about the awarding of licenses and lawmakers have piled on. 

Bax came under fire after failing to meet a legislatively mandated deadline last fall to hand out five new medical marijuana licenses. He blamed the delay on Hurricane Irma and a pending legal challenge to a 2017 law that ordered health officials to expand the number of medical marijuana licenses. 

He will be replaced by Courtney Coppola, his deputy director. Coppola joined Bax in the office shortly after the latter was hired in 2015.

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