The Florida Department of Health faces a legal challenge in its latest attempt to move forward with regulations for the state's new medical-marijuana industry.

Jacksonville attorney Ian Christensen this week filed a challenge in the state Division of Administrative Hearings to the department's proposed rule for carrying out a 2014 law that would make available a limited type of medical marijuana.

The challenge was filed on behalf of 4-year-old Dahlia Barnhart, who the document says has an inoperable brain tumor, and it alleges that the department did not follow the law in drawing up the proposed rule.

The child, according to the challenge, would be a "qualified patient" under the law to receive the type of marijuana that is low in euphoria-inducing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and high in cannabadiol, or CBD.

In part, the challenge takes issue with the way the department proposes selecting five "dispensing organizations," which would grow, process and dispense the cannabis. It said the proposed rule lacks minimum standards for the dispensing organizations and does not provide assurances to patients about statewide access to the drugs.

"Overall, the proposed rule fails to provide any objective methods to determine whether an eligible (dispensing organization) applicant is superior at growing low-THC cannabis or filling out a lengthy application,'' the challenge says. "This 'red-tape' ensures only the most politically connected, not the best qualified applicant, are approved."

The Department of Health defended the proposed rule during a hearing early this month. But the challenge presents at least a temporary obstacle and comes after Administrative Law Judge W. David Watkins in November rejected the department's first attempt at a rule to carry out the marijuana law.

From our media partner News Service of Florida


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