DOH: Charlotte’s Web rule change likely

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Linda McMullen, director of the Department of Health Office of Compassionate Use, opened Friday’s hearing by acknowledging that a notice of change of proposed rules is “likely.”

McMullen told an audience of more than 100 growers, patient advocates and lobbyists that the Department is interested in hearing comments about the proposed definition of an applicant for a Charlotte’s Web license being an “entity” in which a qualified grower has at least 25 percent ownership.

The Joint Administrative and Procedures Committee has asked the department under what authority did it have to propose such a rule. JAPC must certify the department’s work before any regulations can be filed and implemented.

Jennifer Tschetter, DOH’s general counsel, has explained the department came up with the 25 percent rule at the urging of nurseries that feared banks would refuse to service them out of fear of violating federal regulations.

Louis Rotundo, representing the Florida Medical Cannabis Association argued that fear was irrelevant and the department lacked the statutory authority to implement it.

“A dispensing organization does not exist until an applicant is awarded a license,” said Rotundo. “The only (potential) applicant identified in the law is a nursery.”

Rotundo explained that the business arrangements behind an application are not within the department’s area of responsibility as identified by lawmakers.

Ron Watson, whose client list includes FMCA and other marijuana interests advised the department that if it were to change the word “entity” to “organization” in the rules then the proposal would “pass mustard” with JPAC.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.