Florida Judge Strikes Down MMJ Lottery Proposal

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A judge struck down a proposed rule in Florida that would have used a lottery system to choose five companies that will grow, process and distribute marijuana under the state’s CBD law.

Licensees to produce and dispense non-euphoric marijuana should be chosen after evaluation of necessary facts rather than by chance, as Florida residents deserve dependable and consistent delivery of high-quality, low-THC medicine, Administrative Law Judge W. David Watkins said in a 71-page ruling.

Watkins sided with Miami-based Costa Farms and other companies that filed suit against the Florida Department of Health over the lottery system, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

The process is “vague, fails to establish adequate standards for agency decisions and vests unbridled discretion in the agency,” the judge said.

Watkins also rejected portions of the rule saying who could apply and when they must pay for an application fee.

Patients with severe forms of epilepsy and cancer will be allowed to use marijuana prescribed by doctors under the new law, which was approved by the state legislature and Gov. Rick Scott earlier this year. A proposal to legalize medical marijuana in general for a wider swath of the population failed at the ballot box earlier this month.

The health department had claimed the lottery system would reduce litigation over selection of the licensees, and it refused to back down despite the protests of nursery owners. But Watkins sided with those who claimed the lottery system may have allowed the luckiest, rather than the most-qualified, applicants to receive licenses, the Democrat said.

The judge also rejected the department’s suggestion that finalists under the lottery system would be as qualified to grow and dispense cannabis as those selected after a more stringent selection process. Additionally, he disagreed with the department’s contention that it would be difficult or impossible to compare applications because companies use different methods to process marijuana.