The state of legalized medical marijuana in Florida is facing a legal quagmire, thanks to the obstructionist efforts of a single unelected bureaucrat. His name is Christian Bax, and he alone holds the political power to decide which patients do and do not receive permits to access the state’s very few dispensaries. Bax is also the only person who can decide which aspiring business owners can legally grow and sell medical marijuana.
Bax’s official title is the Director of the Office of Medical Marijuana Use for the Florida Department of Health. According to POLITICO, Bax had little to no formal experience in the medical marijuana industry before taking his post. His sole claim to fame was as an attorney of a few cases involving legalized marijuana regulations. And even though he was tapped by Florida Surgeon General Celeste Philip as the “best candidate” for the job, Bax was oddly the only applicant.
Part of the reason why no one else applied for the job was because the Surgeon General had insisted that the opening not be publicized to the general population. As a result, Bax was an immediate shoo-in for the post.
Medical marijuana is a GOP-controlled state
Florida is run by the Republicans. The Sunshine State boasts a Republican governor, and both chambers of the state congress are also GOP-controlled. And ever since the bill to legalize medical marijuana was passed in 2016, Republican lawmakers have been pressuring Bax to get off his butt and get the process rolling. Bax insists that he is only following the legal process, as painstaking as it may appear.
As of this writing, there are only thirteen legally licensed growers in the entire state of Florida. It is currently illegal for patients or small business owners to grow even a single plant without a state-sanctioned license. And while patients must obtain a prescription from a physician to be legally allowed access to these thirteen dispensaries, they must also obtain a state permit. And who issues these permits? Christian Bax, of course.
Another obstacle, according to Bax, is the filing of a lawsuit by a black farmer in Florida who is alleging discrimination by the state for his attempts to gain a grower’s license. The Black Farmers Association has also become involved in the case somehow, and Bax is now insisting that no new licenses will be issued by his office until the lawsuit makes its way through the judicial process, which could take months or even years.
Multiple other lawsuits have since been filed as a result, and Bax is remaining firm in his stance. Thanks to the efforts of a single man, Christian Bax, the state of the medical marijuana industry in Florida is at a virtual stand-still.