May 23, 2017 – Following a lengthy hearing in August that included 26 witnesses and resulted in 26 volumes of material, Administrative Law Judge John G. Van Laningham issued his final order today which recommended that the Florida Department of Health issue two final licenses to grow medical marijuana for distribution in Florida.
Florida law has detailed and specific criteria that must be met in order to qualify as a distributing organization. The application to become a grower/distributor was detailed and specific with only established plant nurseries able to qualify. The application process included a $60,063 fee. Five main areas were covered in the application including: Cultivation, Processing, Dispensing, Medical Director and Financials. Each main area had factors within, each assigned both a value and a weight.
Having found the Department of Health evaluation of applications imprecise, the Administrative Law Judge prepared a scale that met the “plain language” requirement of Florida law.
Under this direct approach two applicants that had previously competed for a final license came in a virtual tie and Judge Van Laningham recommended that the Department of Health authorize both growers.
Specifically, his order says, “The Department of Health consider whether, in the exercise of newly acquired constitutional authority, it may license both Plants of Ruskin, Inc., and Tornell Landscape Corp., d/b/a 3 Boys Farm, as MMTCs; and then consider exercising such authority, if thought to exist, because there is no meaningful qualitative difference between these applicants, as a matter of ultimate fact.”
“This is indeed good news for the people of Florida that need access to this medicine,” said Douglas Manson, attorney for Plants of Ruskin. “The Department of Health has now been cleared to act on this final step in a constitutional mandate that was well thought out and executed.”
“This has been an unbelievably long and challenging process,” said John Tipton, CEO, Plants of Ruskin. “We know there are patients waiting to access this critical medicine and we appreciate the recognition from this Administrative Law Judge that we are well-qualified to provide it.”