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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Nurseries file lawsuit over low-THC cannabis licenses



Three nurseries that were not granted licenses to grow low-THC medical marijuana are suing the Department of Health and asking a judge for an injunction to stop growers in three of five regions in the state from moving forward.

The suit, filed Tuesday in the state circuit court in Tallahassee, alleges that DOH forced nurseries to move forward with growing the drug ahead of schedule before legal challenges to the licenses issued last November had been cleared.

What’s more, the nurseries — McCrory’s Sunny Hill Nursery, San Felasco Nurseries and Tornello Landscape 3 Boys Farm — say some of those licensed to grow the drug don’t meet minimum standards set by DOH.

“We believe the Department has approved applications of applicants which fail to meet even basic qualifications,” Jim McKee, an attorney with Foley & Lardner LLP, said in a statement.

The nurseries filing the suit were beat out for the five available licenses to grow cannabis low in high-inducing compound THC. It’s a useful drug for children suffering from severe epilepsy, among others, and the Legislature authorized DOH to move forward with licensing growers to produce and sell it in 2014.

Just last year, the licenses were issued, but the plaintiff nurseries say DOH did not follow through with investigating the nurseries it had selected, including three they want a judge to order to stop production: Chestnut Hill Tree Farm, Alpha Foliage and Knox Nursery. The drug is still not available.

The plaintiffs filed administrative challenges with the department, and they’re asking the judge to order the department to stop moving forward with its role in licensing and regulating the nurseries while those challenges continue.

DOH declined comment. "The department does not comment on active litigation," spokeswoman Mara Gambineri said.

[Last modified: Tuesday, February 2, 2016 6:11pm]


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