Election year politics at heart of Dept. of Health’s decision to hold lottery for pot dispensaries

in Uncategorized by

It pains me to make this prediction — because if I am right it means sick children won’t get the help they need and have been promised — but there will be full-scale medical marijuana in Florida before there is Charlotte’s Web, the extract low in THC used to treat patients suffering from conditions that include epilepsy.

That’s because some politicians in Tallahassee are playing election-year politics with this issue — and with the children who need Charlotte’s Web.

As Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald reports:

“The Florida Department of Health has rejected requests to find an alternative to a lottery system for selecting the companies that will grow and dispense low-THC marijuana for medical purposes in its proposed final rule released today.

“… Patients, growers, investors and marijuana entrepreneurs all appealed to the department during two public hearings this summer asking the agencyto reconsider choosing the five dispensaries by lottery.”

The rule is being developed to implement a law passed by the Legislature this spring, authorizing one nursery in five regions of the state to be licensed to cultivate and distribute Charlotte’s Web, but…

“Absent from the rule, however, are any detailed standards that impose requirements on the quality of the cultivation, the experience of the growers or the technological skill of the company to obtain a low-THC abstract.”

In other words, the Department of Health is clearing the regulatory way so that Charlotte’s Web is brought to the market as soon as possible. But in doing so, DOH will only end up delaying the result it hopes to achieve.
Leaving the lottery plan in place all but guarantees an official rule challenge and subsequent litigation; first, because its sheer lunacy to select by chance the dispensers of a drug designed to improve children’s health; second, because which ever farms DON’T win the lottery will probably sue because, well, why not?
Several lawmakers have gone on record questioning the lottery concept, but Rick Scott’s Department of Health keeps moving forward with this flawed plan. That’s because there can’t be any delay of Charlotte’s Web coming to the market — at least not before Election Day.

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.