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Second Nursery Challenges Marijuana Rule

By News Service of Florida

A Ruskin-based nursery has challenged the Florida Department of Health's plan for regulating the state's new medical-marijuana industry. Plants of Ruskin, Inc., filed the challenge Monday in the state Division of Administrative Hearings, shortly after another grower, Miami-based Costa Farms, also challenged the rule. Under a law passed this spring, both firms are eligible to apply for licenses to grow, process and distribute non-euphoric strains of cannabis that supporters say can help children with severe forms of epilepsy and people with some other types of medical conditions. The new law approved strains of marijuana low in euphoria-inducing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and high in cannabadiol, or CBD. But some growers object to a Department of Health plan that offers details about how the law would be carried out. In its challenge, Plants of Ruskin alleged that the department's proposals "fail to establish even minimum criteria to evaluate an applicant’s financial, technical and technological ability to securely cultivate and produce low-THC cannabis." Among other things, the challenge alleges that the department overstepped its rulemaking authority with the plan. Under the law, applicants are required to have a valid registration from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to cultivate more than 400,000 plants, be operated by a nurseryman as defined by state law and have operated as a registered nursery in the state for at least 30 continuous years. At least 60 nurseries meet the criteria. Lawmakers have said the nursery requirements were intended to ensure that large growers with a long history in Florida were entrusted with the licenses.