On Wednesday morning, state Sen. Rob Bradley temporarily postponed Senate consideration of SPB 7066, the legislative fix for the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014.
Scheduled for a second reading is the measure addressing concerns believed to be driving legal challenges to a proposed rule for the Act.
Meanwhile, the state Department of Health faces a 5 p.m. deadline Wednesday in its effort to defeat the last remaining challenge to its proposed regulatory structure for the Charlotte’s Web law.
“We’re in a holding pattern,” Bradley said Tuesday.
Medicinal marijuana advocates have one eye on the Senate and another on Judge W. David Watkins’ chamber.
Late Tuesday, Watkins dismissed the challenge filed by Sanford-based Master Growers P.A.
Watkins ruled, the order is here, Master Growers lacked standing to sue DOH over a proposed rule to award five licenses authorized by lawmakers to grow marijuana and dispense medicinal oil.
“Since Master Growers does not qualify to apply to become a dispensing organization (since it does not meet the three statutory perquisites) its interests do not fall within the zone of interest to be protected or regulated by the proposed rules under challenge,” Watkins wrote.
It’s the third consecutive challenge DOH has successfully sought to be dismissed.
“Less and less momentum is created when these challenges are found to be baseless,” said Bradley about the prospect of SPB 7066.
Master Growers had filed suit as the part owner of Baywood Nurseries, Co., Inc., based in Apopka.
A challenge by Baywood remains and Watkins Tuesday also ordered DOH to answer 35 questions Baywood had during discovery in preparation for Thursday’s hearing.
DOH had argued in a motion that most of the questions are overly broad and irrelevant to the case. The department’s response is here.
Watkins disagreed; his order compelling the department to respond is here.
DOH has a motion pending seeking dismissal of the Baywood challenge. If it were to prevail and the final hurdle to implementing the 2014 law is cleared, then an application period for Charlotte’s Web licenses would begin in 20 days. If Baywood were to prevail, then DOH would have to begin the rule making process a third time.
It appears that last year’s Charlotte’s Web law will be the foundation for the start of Florida’s medicinal marijuana industry. State Sen. Jeff Brandes, an advocate for a broader medicinal marijuana law, has dropped efforts to further lift marijuana prohibitions this year.
“It is my counsel to my fellow senators and my friends in the House that we take a step back, we spend the next couple of months really talking to experts on the regulatory structure and that we come back next year having fully vetted it; having done the hard work and that we put it through committee the right way,” said Brandes.