State Capital Briefs (Evening Edition): Thursday, January 5
The News Service of Florida
The state Department of Health on Thursday issued a final order rejecting a Northeast Florida nursery's attempt to get a license to grow, process and dispense non-euphoric medical marijuana. Surgeon General Celeste Philip, who serves as secretary of the Department of Health, signed a 36-page order that largely upheld a recommendation by an administrative law judge on the application by Loop's Nursery and Greenhouses, Inc. The case is rooted in a 2014 law that legalized non-euphoric cannabis for certain medical conditions. The law ordered the Department of Health to award one "dispensing organization" license in each of five regions of the state. The department awarded a license in the Northeast region to Chestnut Hill Tree Farm and later granted a second license to San Felasco Nurseries after an administrative law judge ruled that San Felasco's application had been wrongly rejected. Loop's also sought a license in the region, but Administrative Law Judge R. Bruce McKibben issued a recommended order in October that said the application should be denied. "While Loop's did prove definitively that it was approvable and had a very good proposal, that fact alone did not establish that it was better than the other two applicants at issue," McKibben wrote in the recommended order. Under administrative law, the recommendation then went to the Department of Health for issuance of a final order. Lawmakers last year expanded the 2014 cannabis law to allow full-strength marijuana for terminally ill patients. Voters in November approved a constitutional amendment that will expand access to full-strength cannabis for patients with a wide range of conditions.