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Hearings Begin In Challenge Of 'Charlotte's Web' Rules

Brett Levin

The Department of Health is defending its plan for distributing low-THC, or non-euphoric, marijuana.  The agency’s proposal has drawn sharp criticism for its reliance on a lottery to award licenses.

The Department’s proposed rules have come under fire for leaving licensing up to chance rather than the quality of the applicant.  The Department says it has no way of comparing dispensing organizations, and nothing in the law actually stops it from using a lottery.  But Steven Turner, attorney for South Florida nursery Costa Farms, isn’t satisfied.

“We think that’s a perverse use of the lottery,” Turner says, “because if the Legislature desired a lottery as a unique method they would have specified it such as in the beverage quota licensure.  Otherwise, as Mr. Gaetz observed during the debate, one would expect comparative review.”

Costa Farms along with Plants of Ruskin and the Florida Medical Cannabis Association are asking an administrative law court to throw out the proposed rules. 

The law allows doctors to begin prescribing Jan. 1 of next year, but Tuesday’s hearing could delay what has proven to be a contentious rulemaking process.  It is unclear how soon medication will be available for patients.