State Rep. Matt Gaetz began Monday morning describing an “unsolved mystery,” how to get Florida’s first legal marijuana crop in the ground and begin supplying children afflicted with a severe form of epilepsy with medicinal oil to calm their seizures –- which can be fatal.
“I sense an enhanced appetite for legislative review but how to inject the Legislature into rule making without creating more delay is an unsolved mystery – at this point,” said Gaetz.
Gaetz was the House sponsor of the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, which he referred to as the “one of the most important piece of legislation” of his career.
The law has been stuck in hearings and court cases with the Department of Health stymied by legal challenges to its proposed rules for awarding five licenses to grow marijuana and regulating processing and dispensing of medicinal cannabis oil.
Testifying in the court case that had invalidated its first proposed rule a DOH official justified a lottery scheme to award the licenses as a way to deal with a situation where there was “more interest than opportunity.”
The lottery was thrown out for lacking measurable criteria to evaluate applicants and now DOH’s second proposal – having applicants explain their plan –- is under challenge for lacking minimum standards.
“Sen. Bradley has made public statements about developing a proposal by-passing the rule making process all together,” said Gaetz Monday. “It would be difficult for the Legislature to do that if it wants a strong regulatory process (of cannabis) in place. I don’t know if there is an appetite for that.”
However, Gaetz said there is a “high level of frustration” and an “enhanced appetite” to do something to end the bureaucratic merry-go-round lawmakers put DOH on when it crafted a Charlotte’s Web that created a lot more interest than the opportunities provided by five licenses.
Friday, state Sen. Rob Bradley, chair of the Regulated Industries Committee, said he intends in two or three weeks to have his committee discuss getting the Charlotte’s Web law out of court and implemented.