Marijuana provider: State's pesticide regulation too 'stringent' - Florida Politics

Marijuana provider: State’s pesticide regulation too ‘stringent’

If a pesticide is good enough for organic crops, it’s good enough to be used on medicinal pot, a Florida medical marijuana provider says.

Liberty Health Sciences, a Canadian concern operating in the U.S., last week filed an administrative challenge over a Florida Department of Health proposed rule on marijuana pesticides.

Within days, however, both sides agreed to a ceasefire, Division Of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) records show. They asked asked Administrative Law Judge June McKinney to call off an April 23-24 hearing.

That’s because Office of Medical Marijuana Use regulators were “continuing to evaluate the Proposed Rule in an effort to resolve the (company’s) concerns,” according to a filing. McKinney agreed, but ordered both sides to file a status report on the case by May 7.

“Failure to timely advise will result in the conclusion that this matter has been amicably resolved, and the file … will be closed,” McKinney wrote.

Liberty Health Sciences, represented by Tallahassee’s Lockwood Law Firm, says the department’s rule would “cause great harm to Florida’s medical marijuana industry and the patient population it serves.”

Here’s why: It “prohibits MMTCs (medical marijuana treatment centers) from using a large number of pesticides that have been approved for use in organic crop production without any valid scientific or legislative basis for such prohibition,” its filing says. 

“Very few substances meet the (department’s) stringent requirements, and the substances that do meet the requirements will adversely impact the quality of the cannabis product due to their low efficacy,” it adds.

“According to the clear language of (state) statute, the Office (of Medical Marijuana Use) may only determine which pesticides are safe for use on plants intended for human consumption. Once a pesticide has been determined to be safe for use on plants intended for human consumption, the Office must permit the pesticide to be used.”

The department has not filed a formal response, according to a Monday docket check.

Officials have “consulted with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services on its rule for pesticide use on marijuana, as required by Florida law,” Health Department Deputy Press Secretary Brad Dalton said in an email.

“Because there are no federally approved pesticides for use on marijuana, regulating pesticides within Florida’s medical marijuana market is a complex endeavor,” he added. “The Department will continue to work towards establishing a regulatory framework that protects some of our state’s most vulnerable patients in a manner that represents effective and efficient policy in practice.”

Jim Rosica covers state government from Tallahassee for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.
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