Florida’s new medical marijuana czar is a lawyer and former Navy officer

Overseeing just about 500 health care marijuana retail websites and far more than 750,000 patients, Florida’s new clinical pot czar is an legal professional who put in additional than two a long time in the U.S. Navy and served in the Choose Advocate General’s Corps.&#13

Florida Section of Overall health officers on Tuesday verified that Christopher Phillip Kimball has been named director of the state’s Business of Health care Marijuana Use.&#13

Kimball actions into the put up as the state’s health-related marijuana field could be poised to double in size and as troubles pile up about the agency’s conclusion to award a sought-after medical marijuana license to a Black farmer.&#13

Kimball replaces Chris Ferguson, who ran the business office for the past three yrs. Ferguson “has transitioned into the function of statewide providers administrator for county health and fitness systems and will keep on to serve the general public in this new role” at the Division of Wellbeing, agency spokeswoman Weesam Khoury explained in a textual content.&#13

Kimball will come to the healthcare marijuana business office immediately after serving as a “policy advisor” at the state Company for Wellness Care Administration, she explained.&#13

Kimball left the Navy in May perhaps just after serving as “agency counsel/general counsel” for the Judge Advocate General’s Corps considering that 2008, according to his LinkedIn profile. Right before that, Kimball spent 7 several years as a Navy “surface warfare officer.”&#13

Kimball mentioned his “professional passions” on the social media web page as “helping shoppers solve their thorniest problems serving my purchasers & teammates, and helping legal and administrative methods justly and competently provide their citizens.”&#13

Kimball obtained a bachelor’s degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York and graduated from Albany Legislation University of Union University, his profile claimed.&#13

“Chris Kimball is a focused and tough doing work officer and choose advocate. As the supervising professor in the legislation portion at the U.S. Naval Academy, Chris spearheaded initiatives to minimize class dimensions and include elective programs, together with an elective on the regulation of armed conflict and the legislation of maritime operations. As a previous surface area warfare officer, Chris’s initiative and travel personified the line officer neighborhood to both of those his colleagues and his pupils,” Chad Bayse, an lawyer who served as a counselor to previous U.S. Lawyer General Jeff Sessions and who labored with Kimball in the Navy, wrote in a LinkedIn recommendation.&#13

Previously this thirty day period, Kimball’s LinkedIn profile shown a stint as an assistant lawyer typical in Attorney Common Ashley Moody’s workplace from June via September, adopted by 3 months as a “health treatment plan advisor” for the state.&#13

But on Tuesday, people work opportunities had been scrubbed from his profile and a listing as “director, condition of Florida Department of Health” from “November 2022—present” had been added.&#13

Kimball’s predecessor, Ferguson, worked at the Department of Health just before starting to be head of the Business office of Health-related Marijuana Use in December 2019. His predecessor, Courtney Coppola, worked at the office soon after its inception in 2015.&#13

Various professional medical cannabis field insiders contacted by The News Services of Florida on Tuesday did not want to comment on Kimball’s appointment.&#13

Kimball begins the career as the state’s cannabis market, which has 22 licensed operators, is predicted to increase exponentially.&#13

Voters in 2016 handed a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized health-related marijuana. A ensuing 2017 regulation created a framework for the business and essential the Division of Well being to grant new licenses as the quantity of authorized patients boosts.&#13

With more than 760,000 people now licensed for health-related marijuana, the state should really have issued at the very least yet another 22 licenses to preserve up — doubling the variety of existing operators. The recent operators were being component of an original team of applicants immediately after the Legislature in 2014 handed a measure that authorized a rather confined variety of sufferers to obtain low-THC cannabis items.&#13

For several years, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration blamed a hold off on granting far more licenses to a challenge to the 2017 legislation filed by the Tampa-based mostly firm Florigrown. But the Florida Supreme Court upheld the legislation and finalized the litigation additional than a 12 months ago.&#13

The hold off in the rollout of new licenses sparked another lawsuit submitted this thirty day period by Louis Del Favero Orchids, Inc. The company has extended sought a license, but its other administrative and authorized problems in excess of the past 4 a long time have fizzled.&#13

In the meantime, the Section of Wellness is experiencing a stack of issues just after picking a Suwannee County person to acquire a health-related cannabis license earmarked in the 2017 legislation for a Black farmer.&#13

Wellbeing officers started accepting applications for the Black farmer license in March and in September announced their intent to grant the license to Terry Donnell Gwinn. The 11 applicants who dropped out on the license are complicated the final decision. &#13

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