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Judge orders Medical Cannabis Trade Association to disclose membership

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

The Medical Cannabis Trade Association of Florida is considering whether to withdraw its challenge to a proposed rule of the Charlotte’s Web law.

Judge W. David Watkins ordered the association on Monday to divulge its membership when he granted a motion to compel filed by the Department of Health.

DOH attorney Eduardo Lombard argued during a telephone hearing that the Department and the court needed to know the association’s membership in order to determine whether MCTA had standing to block the rule from going into effect.

MCTA attorneys said revealing the information would create “incredibly adverse consequences” for the membership since DOH would have “a great deal of discretion” in awarding licenses to cultivate marijuana and dispense medicinal oil.

“If there are two identical applications and one had filed a challenge and one hadn’t,” attorney Stephen Grigas pointed out to Watkins.

Also representing MCTA was Clifford Wolf.  He suggested the association would agree to a middle solution, provide the information for Watkins’ eyes only. Lombard objected, saying the DOH wanted the information for discovery and the arrangement would limit DOH’s ability to appeal in the unlikely event Watkins erred in any ruling he would make.

“How are you to put that in a finding of fact? How do I appeal that (without having seen the document)?” Lombard asked.

The proposed rule would enable DOH to award five licenses authorized in 2014 by the Legislature. To qualify for the licenses, a nursery must have operated in Florida for at least 30 years and have an inventory of 400,000 plants.

Watkins gave the association until 9 a.m. on April 15 to provide information about its members.

Wolf protested Watkins’ decision would have a chilling effect.

“If this is the decision, then the Association will be considering withdrawing,” said Wolf, who declined comment immediately after the hearing adjourned.

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