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Judge to rule on low-THC medical marijuana suit

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Administrative Law Judge W. David Watkins has until this Friday to decide if the Florida Department of Health overstepped its authority with proposed rules to implement low-THC medical marijuana.

The Charlotte’s Web bill would grant five nurseries the right to grow, process and sell medical marijuana to patients in Florida beginning Jan. 1, 2015.

One of the issues Watkins will decide is whether the state can use a lottery system to award the potentially lucrative contracts.

“Just the legal activity and the surrounding part of it shouldn’t necessarily prevent people from being able to have access to Charlotte’s Web when it’s actually grown,” said Adam Levine, an adjunct law professor at Stetson University and a lawyer representing one of the farms challenging the state’s rules.

Levine said this week’s ruling is non-binding on the Department of Health, but it could become the legal basis for further lawsuits down the road.

“This is not a regular lawsuit like people think about when they watch Perry Mason on TV,” Levine said.

When contacted by WMFE, the Florida Department of Health said no one was available for an interview, but Florida Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong wrote in a statement that the legal challenge is quote regrettable.

Louis Rotundo is the lead lobbyist for the Florida Medical Cannabis Association in Winter Park. Rotundo said last Tuesday’s defeat of a broader medical marijuana amendment has no bearing on the Charlotte’s Web law.

“The short answer is no,” Rotundo said. “The law is on the books which allows for certain illnesses to get low-THC cannabis. The ballot initiative would have expanded the types of cannabis and the types of patient.”

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Abe Aboraya

About Abe Aboraya

Health Reporter

Abe Aboraya started writing for newspapers in High School. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe ... Read Full Bio »