Five Florida nurseries, including two from Miami-Dade County, were selected Monday to grow and distribute the first legal cannabis in the state, opening the gates to the sale of the non-euphoric strains to treat patients with seizure disorders and cancer by June of next year.

Costa Nursery Farms, of Miami, won the bid for the Southeast Region.

Knox Nursery of Winter Garden will grow it for the Central Region.

Hackney Nursery Company of Tallahassee will grow marijuana for the Northwest Region.

Chestnut Hill Tree Farm of Alachua will be the cannabis grower for the Northeast Region.

Under the law, applicants had to have been in business in Florida for at least 3 decades and cultivate a minimum of 400,000 plants at the time they applied.

The majority of the five nurseries partnered with consultants, investors, security firms, technology companies and out-of-state pot growers to develop their application.

Four of the nurseries represented on the rules committee – Costa Farms, Hackney Nursery, Chestnut Hill Farms and Knox Nursery – also were winners in the application process, immediately drawing fire from other applicants.

“Every applicant will be reviewing the scoring and making some decisions in terms of how to proceed.” Each of the growers now will have 10 business days to post a $5 million performance bond to prove they are serious about getting the required license.

The nurseries have a little more than 2 months to request cultivation authority and they must begin cultivating the low-THC cannabis within 210 days – or by June of next year.

In Southeast Florida, the unsuccessful applicants included Bill’s Nursery of Homestead, Nature’s Way Nursery of Miami and Redland Nursery of Homestead. Costa Farms has been working vigorously to win the bid since the outset.

The company is the largest nursery in Florida and has been in business as a registered nursery since 1984.

A last-minute amendment placed onto the low-THC bill in 2014 by the Florida House prohibited anybody who grew plants from applying who had not been in business since 1984 and had an inventory of at least 400,000 plants at the time of the application.

The growers are also counting on the Legislature to expand the amount of medical issues covered by the law or passage of the more wide-ranging medical marijuana initiative that could be on the November 2016 ballot.

The measure would also allow growers to cultivate strains with higher THC levels which cancer patients say is necessary.

MAPH Enterprises, LLC | (305) 414-0128 | 1501 Venera Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33146 |
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