- The Florida Department of Health confirmed that Christopher Phillip Kimball, a lawyer and U.S. Navy veteran, will be the state Office of Medical Marijuana Use’s next director
- Kimball succeeds Chris Ferguson, who worked as the agency’s director since 2019
- Prior to his move to the Office of Medical Marijuana Use, Kimball worked within the Agency for Health Care Administration as a policy advisor
- The Office of Medical Marijuana Use reports 766,629 qualified patients that hold medical marijuana cards, with an expectation that the industry is readying to hit a boom
Lawyer and Navy veteran Christopher Phillip Kimball has been selected to serve as the director of Florida’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU), according to the Florida Department of Health.
Kimball steps into the role after working within the Agency for Health Care Administration as a policy advisor, succeeding Chris Ferguson, who ran the office since 2019.
The department is tasked with the licensing and regulation of medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTCs) and is overseen by the state Department of Health. MMTCs are the only state-authorized vertically integrated businesses to cultivate, process, and dispense low-THC cannabis and medical marijuana in Florida.
According to internal statistics, the OMMU reports 766,629 qualified patients and 2,607 physicians able to prescribe medical marijuana licenses. This month, it added three new dispensaries — two in Jacksonville and one in Tallahassee.
Following a stated expectation of increased patient activity last month, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) included an additional $6.2 million for the OMMU in its legislative budget request for the coming fiscal year.
Half of the money would be used to hire 31 extra employees for its Tallahassee headquarters and new regional offices, as reported by Florida Politics.
The rest is expected to subsidize expenses related to contracted work such as legal consultation, seed-to-sale monitoring, patient documentation services, and license evaluation.
“The increase in active patients, caregivers, and licensed [sellers] creates an increase in demand for OMMU staffing resources,” stated the OMMU’s request. “The OMMU has identified additional areas of critical need necessary to support the current workforce. The expansion of the OMMU’s regulatory footprint anticipated next fiscal year requires additional inspectors and administrative staff to support the OMMU headquarters and expansion of regional offices.”
The request additionally states that the OMMU performed workload assessments based on the estimated time to perform specific job-related tasks for the requested positions using the Legislative Budget Request (LBR) standard of 1,854 annual work hours per full-time equivalent.
Medical marijuana was made legal via a Constitutional amendment in 2016, though a referendum on recreational use has not been held.
Trulieve, an industry leader in the Florida cannabis market, contributed $5 million dollars to the Smart and Safe Florida campaign, according to financial reports. The initiative aims to legalize recreational, adult-use cannabis use in the state.
Trulieve’s investment is the second of its kind; the company has now contributed $10 million to Smart Safe Florida, which is attempting to place the initiative on the ballot in 2024.