According to the Florida Department of Health, it choose to use the lottery selection process it did when selecting the five licensed state producers of low level THC cannabis in order to avoid lawsuits. It would appear that the department’s plan has failed before it even could truly get started. Earlier this week the organization received its first lawsuit in respects to its chosen lottery selection process.
Costa Farms, one of the state’s largest agricultural and farming operations located in Miami, filed an official administrative complaint against the state Department of Health this past Monday. According to Costa Farms the Department is violating the state law because nowhere in the passed legislation does it make any mention of such a lottery system.
In a publicly released statement Peter Freyre, vice president of Costa Farms, said “The Department of Health has a duty to ensure that the dispensing organizations that are selected to make this medicine are the very best, not merely the luckiest, we suggest that the department abandon the notion that a lottery is the appropriate method for selecting dispensing organizations.”
Previously the Department of Health has agreed to alter parts of its rules but ultimately still stick with the proposed lottery. It originally suggested that selecting companies based on fixed criteria would be more contentious, thereby delaying the process.
In a poor attempt to side step the obvious concerns of abuse and corruption within the state’s Department of Health system in regards to the issuance of these “random” license’s John Armstrong, secretary of the DOH and the state’s surgeon general released a statement saying:
“A rule challenge is regrettable; the parties behind a challenge should explain why they are delaying the process of providing compassionate care to children with refractory epilepsy and patients with advanced cancer. The Department remains committed to getting this product to the market as soon as possible for qualified children and families in Florida.”
This statement is in many respects a joke and should be given zero credibility. In fact Mr.
Armstrong should be ashamed of himself and his position for insinuating that potential producers are not in fact looking out for the well being of potential patients across the state. With its long standing history of corruption and medical insurance fraud Florida ranks as one of the most politically corrupt and misguided states in our nation. For potential producers of vital medicine to demand higher standards than those being implemented by a government run agency is appalling and in this writers opinion should speak to the greater need for a complete re-haul of the state’s medical marijuana framework.
The original proposal set forth by the department called for potential vendors to only meet a minimal level of requirements to be considered for the lottery. Only companies who have been operating in Florida for more than 30 years and with a growing capacity of 400,000 plants would possibly be considered for the final lottery selection. Thankfully, even the families of potential patients opposed the seemingly lax requirements. They are concerned that the standards are not high enough to properly ensure the long term safety of patients and the state’s program. Potential businesses and vendors argue that having more concrete requirements would elevate the playing field and ensure that only companies with the best, safest and most effective operations would become licensed producers.
According to Costa Farms representatives “Costa Farms understands and agrees that the low THC cannabis program needs to be implemented in the time frame contemplated by the Florida legislature, we are seeking administrative review of the Department’s rules to preserve our rights but are fully cooperative and hope that we can resolve this matter by negotiating a quick resolution of all outstanding issues with the department.”
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