The owner of a South Florida nursery seeking one of a small number of licenses to grow and distribute medical marijuana in the state sued the Florida Department of Health on Tuesday over the state’s failure to meet a legal deadline to approve enough licenses.
The owners of Bill’s Nursery of Homestead, near Miami, were joined as plaintiffs in the lawsuit by Michael Bowen, a Florida resident who suffers from epilepsy and says marijuana helps prevent seizures.
The lawsuit, filed in the state capital of Tallahassee, asks a judge to order the state to issue more licenses. A law passed earlier this year by the Florida legislature required officials to issue 10 new licenses by Oct. 3, but so far, only six have been issued.
“The law is clear,” the lawsuit says. “The DOH was to license ten (marijuana providers) by October 3, 2017. The DOH’s disregard for this legislative command violates Florida law.”
The plaintiffs argued that the agency’s failure to issue the licenses not only affects potential licensees, like Bill’s, but also makes it harder for patients to get access to marijuana.
Mara Gambineri, a spokeswoman for the state Health Department, told The Associated Press that the agency is working “diligently” to implement the new law.
But there’s another lawsuit pending in Florida charging the requirements for becoming eligible for a license to grow are too narrow to give black farmers a chance to get one, even though that’s required by state law. Health Department officials told lawmakers earlier this year that that lawsuit was complicating the effort to finish issuing licenses.
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