Florida has hit a milestone of sorts as it slowly moves toward wider availability of medical marijuana.
The number of patients in the state who are registered to use the substance has surpassed 100,000 for the first time, according to Florida Department of Health.
The departmentís weekly "Office Of Medical Marijuana Use" report, released Friday, shows that 100,576 Floridians are actively registered to receive medical marijuana products for specific medical qualifying conditions.
When voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of medical marijuana use via Amendment 2 in 2016, analysts predicted that the stateís cannabis industry would grow to $1 billion by 2020. Despite regulatory delays from the Health Department and early backlogs registering patients, the industry is still poised for significant growth.
There are currently 34 approved retail dispensaries open in the state, which are operated by 13 licensed companies approved by the Legislature.
The number of certified physicians qualified to give medical marijuana recommendations stands in stark contrast to the stateís more than 100,00 patients. Only 1,314 doctors are registered, according to the Health Departmentís weekly report. There are 13 approved "treatment centers" in the state.
The Health Department faces several lawsuits challenging the way it has implemented the rules for medical marijuana use in the state. The department has appealed a recent order by Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers granting Tampa strip club owner, Joe Redner, the ability to grow his own marijuana plants. Orlando attorney John Morgan will go to trial to challenge the departmentís ban on smoking cannabis next month.