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Judge says he doesn’t have authority to stop medical marijuana licenses from being issued

An administrative law judge said he doesn’t have the authority to stop the Department of Health from issuing the final licenses for medical marijuana businesses, despite concerns over whether they should be considered final before administrative proceedings are complete.

The Tampa Bay Business Journal reported, administrative law Judge John G. Van Laningham denied a request by Plants of Ruskin to depose state health officials. The nursery was one more than a dozen across the state that filed an administrative challenge after five nurseries were chosen to grow, process and dispense a low-THC marijuana.

In an order issued Friday, Van Laningham said it was clear that Ruskin was looking to see whether “the Department intends to move forward with the issuance of regional dispensing organization licenses despite the pendency of proceedings before the Division of Administrative Hearings.”

According to the Tampa Bay Business Journal, agency officials told a Senate panel the process was on track and they were preparing to give permission to the five organizations to begin growing cannabis.

Van Laningham said it is “a basic tenet of Florida administrative law” that agency action is “ineffective until it becomes final at the conclusion of a formal administrative proceeding.”

Van Laningham said the question of whether those licenses would be issued is “irrelevant to this proceeding” because he “could not do anything to stop the Department from so acting, even if he were convinced that the action was unlawful.”


“DOAH simply does not have jurisdiction to enjoin a state agency,” he wrote.

In November, the Office of Compassionate Care named five nurseries as the ones that could grow, process and dispense the product. Plants of Ruskin was one of four nurseries in the Southwest Florida region that filed an administrative challenge. Nine other nurseries filed administrative complaints.

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