DOH’s Office of Compassionate Use says draft rules on Charlotte’s Web delayed

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The second draft of proposed rules governing Florida’s new medicinal marijuana will not be released until early next week. Linda McMullen, the director of the Office of Compassionate Use, notified the media and other interested parties Friday afternoon that additional comments have been received and a revised copy of proposed rules will be ready Monday or Tuesday.

Florida’s Charlotte’s Web law allows five medical marijuana dispensaries to cultivate a specific strain of marijuana that is high in cannabidiol, which can calm seizures. The plants will be processed into an oil form and taken orally.  Doctors can order the cannabis product for patients starting Jan. 1. The Department of Health is constructing a regulatory structure to implement the law.

“We’re just wandering around in the wilderness right now,” said Kerry Herndon, a Homestead nursery owner. “We’re growers, just tells us how you want us to do it.”

DOH’s first draft of regulations was widely criticized earlier this month during a Tallahassee workshop. Growers and investors balked at proposals affecting the awarding of licenses, rules governing dispensaries and DOH’s interpretation of a provision about a distribution network.

Herndon owns one of the 55 nurseries that meet licensing requirements of having been in operation for at least 30 years and has an inventory of at least 400,000 plants.

The National Cannabis Association speculates that Florida’s medicinal marijuana industry will be worth as much as $780 million a year.  However, it appears that many growers are taking a wait-and-see attitude until the rule-making process is completed. Only two lobbying firms have signed growers as clients, according to the state’s online list of lobbyists.

“I think many are simply waiting to see the specificity of the regulatory framework which will certainly weed out those who can play or remain on the sidelines,” said Taylor Patrick Biehl of Capitol Alliance Group. “The trigger is the specificity of the law. That’s the determining factor in either narrowing the pool or substantially growing the pool of applicants and interested stakeholders.”

A second rule-making workshop where the public can comment  is scheduled for Aug. 1 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Betty Easley Conference Center in Tallahassee.