A Florida nursery that previously filed a protest over the Department of Health’s award of medical marijuana licenses is back in court this week.
Tropiflora LLC of Sarasota is asking a judge to delay enforcement of part of the state’s new medical marijuana implementing bill, passed during the recent Special Session. The company filed a motion Monday in Leon County Circuit Civil court.
Specifically, it’s asking for a “stay” of the section of the law‘s “medical marijuana treatment center” licensing scheme. The nursery says the department “wrongfully refused” to consider its license application.
The state law, in effect now, grandfathers in seven existing providers, renames them “medical marijuana treatment centers” (MMTCs) and requires the Department of Health to license 10 new providers by October. The bill also allows four new MMTCs for every increase of 100,000 patients prescribed marijuana.
It limits the number of retail locations each MMTC can open to 25 across the state, and divides that cap by region. As the patient count goes up, five more locations can be opened per provider for every new 100,000 patients in the state’s Medical Marijuana Use Registry. The limits expire in 2020.
In late 2015, Tropiflora was one of the first three nurseries to move against the state over the licensing of growers of medical marijuana. San Felasco Nurseries of Gainesville and Perkins Nursery of LaBelle also filed protests.
At that time, only five licenses were awarded to grow medicinal pot, to Hackney Nursery Co. (northwest region), Chestnut Hill Tree Farm (northeast), Knox Nursery (central), Alpha Foliage (southwest), and Costa Nursery Farms (southeast).
TropiFlora objected because four of the five licenses went to nurseries that also sat on the department’s “negotiated rulemaking” committee, records show.
In 2014, lawmakers passed and Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a measure legalizing low-THC, or “non-euphoric,” marijuana to help children with severe seizures and muscle spasms. THC is the chemical that causes the high from pot.
A three-member panel of state officials in DOH was tasked with selecting five approved pot providers out of 28 nurseries that turned in applications.
Since then, state voters approved a constitutional amendment on medicinal cannabis last year. Lawmakers approved and Scott also signed an implementing bill, which gives guidance and instructions to state agencies on how to enforce state law.
A hearing on Tropiflora’s motion was set for Thursday before Circuit Judge Karen Gievers. Tallahassee attorney Steve Andrews is representing the nursery.