The state of Florida is not making their voters terribly happy in terms of the expansion of the medical marijuana law that they voted on a year ago. October 3rd was a deadline for the state to issue more medical cannabis cultivator licenses, but the Office of Medical Marijuana Use failed to comply. Now the state is facing another lawsuit by nurseries anxious to participate in the burgeoning market. Do you think that voters and these lawsuits are unfair to the state?
Now it’s farmers’ turn to be upset with Tallahassee. The state blew its October deadline to issue those new weed-growing licenses, and today a Miami-Dade-based grower, Bill’s Nursery, sued the state in federal court to demand the Florida Department of Health (DOH) follow its own rules.
“The number of MMTCs [medical-marijuana treatment centers] currently operating in Florida has proven to be inadequate for a state so large in both population and geography,” the nursery announced in a news release today. “The problem is exacerbated by the fact that different marijuana strains have varying effectiveness when treating different medical conditions, and the small number of MMTCs further limits the quantity and types of strains available to patients. Florida law required the DOH to issue ten additional licenses by October 3, 2017; yet the Department has failed to do so — an issue which patients say limits their access to lifesaving medicine.”
A spokesperson for the DOH, Mara Gambineri, said the state had not yet been served with the lawsuit, and she could therefore not comment on the suit’s specifics.
“However, the department is working diligently every day to implement the many requirements in Amendment 2 and those set by the Florida Legislature in Senate Bill 8A and are dedicated to ensuring patients have safe access to low-THC cannabis and medical marijuana,” she added. “We remain committed to moving this process forward, and will do so in an expedient and thoughtful manner.”
Bill’s Nursery is run by the Garrison family — father Steve and sons Rusty and Donovan. Steve Garrison says the family was inspired to enter the medical marijuana field after his son Matthew became disabled due to a brain injury he sustained fighting in the Iraq War. Matthew died this past January, and the Garrisons say medical cannabis could have helped their son and brother.
“It’s personal for us — it hits home,” Donovan Garrison said today in the news release. “We cared about this issue before, but after Matthew’s death, it’s so gut-wrenching because we want to help but are being held back.”
The Garrisons have teamed up with co-plaintiff Michael Bowen. He infamously had a grand mal seizure on the Florida Senate floor in April — he’s been having severe, life-threatening seizures since the age of 13 and says traditional pharmaceuticals don’t control his illness. As a kid, he was forced to take up to 600 mg of various barbiturates all day, which he said turned him into an uncoordinated mess. Now he says medical marijuana is the only thing that both treats his seizures and allows him to live a functioning life.