Shake up at the Office of Compassionate Use; Director reassigned on eve of deadline to appeal Charlotte Web’s ruling

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Word is circulating in Tallahassee that Linda McMullen is no longer director of the Office of Compassionate Use and has been reassigned back to the Department of Health’s Prosecution Services Unit. A department spokesman said DOH would have no comment until Monday.

The move means the division charged with bringing medicinal marijuana to Florida is without a leader at a crucial time.

The Office of Compassionate Use was created to implement the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014. It was to have constructed a regulatory framework for the cultivation, processing and dispensing of oil extracted from marijuana by Jan. 1, 2015.

The department’s first proposed rule for the Charlotte’s Web law was thrown out Nov. 14 by administrative law judge David Watkins. Monday is the deadline for DOH to decide whether to appeal the ruling.

DOH has given no indication what its plans are other than to repeat this statement for the past month:

“The Department of Health will consider all options that will most expeditiously get this product to market to help families facing serious illnesses,” according to communication director Nathan Dunn.

Saturday, no information about who was leading the office was available.

Dunn said Saturday more information on McMullen, the Office of Compassionate Use, and whether an appeal will be filed will be available Monday.

If the department waives it right to appeal the ruling it is required to post a Notice of Change for 21 days while it does a rewrite. Once it finalizes a rule the Joint Administrative Procedures Committee would have 20 days to certify it. Then there would be a 15-day application period for the five Charlotte’s Web licenses authorizing the growing, processing and dispensing of a medicinal marijuana product.

Of course, that is a scenario without anyone challenging the proposal. Sen. Rob Bradley, sponsor of the Charlotte’s Web law, said if the legal wrangling isn’t resolved when the legislature convenes its spring session in March he expects there will be legislative fix.