Rejected medical marijuana applications likely to be challenged
TALLAHASSEE — Even before selecting five nurseries to become Florida’s first legal pot producers, Department of Health (DOH) officials will face a challenge from at least one grower whose application was tossed out because it was late.
The department’s Office of Compassionate Use staff rejected two of the 30 applications from nurseries hoping to get chosen as one of the five coveted “dispensing organizations.” Both were tossed because they were received after a 5 p.m. deadline following a frenzied scene during a torrential downpour July 8 at the agency’s headquarters.
Lawyers for O.F. Nelson & Sons say they intend to challenge the rejection because the Apopka-based nursery’s representatives were told the deadline was extended for a day, in part because of the weather.
“Our application was complete, and we were prepared to submit it until the DOH expressly represented that it would extend the deadline a day. We relied on that representation, and the following day the DOH accepted our application and fee without reservation. We only recently discovered that the DOH rejected the application despite its previous assurances that we were timely,” Derek Young, a lawyer with Kaplan Young & Moll Parron who represents the nursery, told The News Service of Florida on Friday.
The O.F. Nelson application was time-stamped 12 p.m. on July 9.
“Our dispensing organization is by far the most qualified and includes one of the leading medical cannabis companies in the world. Florida’s patient population deserves the high standards of quality and safety our dispensing organization represents, and we therefore intend to challenge the DOH’s indefensible position to ensure our patients receive exactly that,” Young said.
Ed Miller and Son Nursery also received a letter from Patricia Nelson, then-director of the Office of Compassionate Use, saying the application from the Palm City nursery — time-stamped at 5:27 p.m. July 8 — was “untimely.” Nelson left the Office of Compassionate Use post a week ago.
The certified letters, sent July 16, also say the nurseries have 21 days to file a challenge. Department officials referred to state law in response to questions about the rejections.
Ed Miller and Son is trying to get a license in the southeastern region of Florida. Anthony Ardizzone, a partner in the nursery, said the deadline wasn’t clear and he is considering a challenge.
While the application for the dispensing organizations said documents would be accepted “no later than 5 p.m.” July 8, the Office of Compassionate Use’s website says the applications would be taken “through” 5 p.m.
Ardizzone is relying on Webster’s Dictionary definition of “through,” which means “during the entire period of” or “from the beginning to the end of.” That means the applications should have been accepted all through the 5 o’clock hour until 6 p.m., according to Ardizzone.