FL: Nursery Sues Over Denied Marijuana License


Administrative law judge Elizabeth W. McArthur found the use of a rented jet helicopter and a mad dash to the Department of Health’s headquarters are not necessarily rules violations.

The ruling came Monday in a challenge to the Department of Health awarding a marijuana license to Knox Nursery of Winter Garden.

Maybe it was important to them, she said, upholding a Department of Health motion to exclude incidents involving Knoxs delivery of a $5 million bond receipt.

McCrorys Nursery wants the state to pull Knoxs license for failing to post a bond on time in December. A spokesman said it can produce documents showing despite renting a jet helicopter to fly to Tallahassee, the deadline was missed. McCrory came in second to Knox when DOH scored the applications.

McCrory wanted to argue Knox lacked the financial resources it claimed.

The McCrory-Knox case is one of a handful questioning how DOH awarded the five licenses authorized by the 2014 law creating Floridas medicinal marijuana industry – one the experts expect will exceed $700 million in annual revenue when fully matured.

Lawmakers divided the state into five regions with one authorized grower/dispenser in each. When lawmakers limited the number of licenses they planted the seeds for a bushel of court cases where the losing nurseries argued they were treated unfairly.

McCrory had intended to use the alleged late posting of Knoxs performance bond as an example that DOH did not follow its own rules.

Post? Whats post, asked McArthur before dissecting the difference between post, notification and delivery.

Looking at the language of the rule, I do not see a 10-business day filing deadline. I see 10 business days to post, said McArthur.

McArthur explained if the bond was written by a surety company licensed by the state and payable to DOH within the time frame, it didn’t matter when the receipt for the bond was delivered.

It was the second motion DOH won in the opening minutes of the hearing. McArthur also granted a motion to limit evidence to before Nov. 23, 2015, when DOH had finished evaluating the applications.

DOH had argued, since the hearing involves how the license was awarded, anything Knox allegedly did after it was selected, including meeting the licensing requirement to post a bond, is irrelevant.

Otherwise, Knox is unfairly judged by how well it has implemented its proposal, while McCrorys get the advantage of being judged solely by its promises, said DOHs attorney Eduardo S. Lombard.

Don Clifford of Grow Healthy is partnering with McCrory in a venture to dispense medicinal cannabis in Central Florida. He led a group of investors in transforming a former mattress factory into an indoor grow facility

We can still prove our case, said Clifford.

Clifford said McCrory will peck away at the scoring of applicants. McCrory came within three decimal points of a fraction of Knoxs winning bid. In a separate case awaiting a final ruling, when the judge reviewed the scoring process, he concluded DOH had ranked, not scored, the applicants.

McCrory also will submit its argument concerning the alleged untimely filing of the bond into the public record as a proffer – making it available for use in other cases questioning how DOH is regulating the industry.

A southeast grower has filed a case in Leon Circuit Court alleging DOH did not apply its rules uniformly to all applicants.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Nursery Sues Over Denied Marijuana License
Author: James Call
Contact: Tallahassee Democrat
Photo Credit: Joe Rondone
Website: Tallahassee Democrat