A new framework to regulate Charlotte's Web held up under a 21-day period of public scrutiny and tilted into another three-week test: special interests. "Barring a legal challenge to this rule by March 25, applications will be accepted as early as April 15," state health officials said.» Rule 64-4.002: Growers who receive DOH approval will have 210 days to bring Charlotte’s Web to market.
Charlotte's Web, a non-euphoric form of medical marijuana, entered the final administrative phase after a public hearing March 2 that involved patient advocates, growers and officials at the Office of Compassionate Use. The first package of regulations was ruled invalid by a judge last year. The Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act was signed into law June 16.
Growers who sued to halt the initial framework seemed supportive at the DOH hearing last week. “We appreciate the amount of thoughtful work the Department of Health has put into this process," Arianna Cabrera of Costa Farms said. "We support your efforts to implement this rule as quickly as possible so that we can get this out to the patients.”
Costa Farms, a Miami-based farming operation, was joined by several large nurseries that objected to a lottery system in the initial plan. In February, a scorecard with 43 categories of expertise replaced a lottery to select five businesses to cultivate, process and dispense Charlotte's Web in five regions of the state.
"The department received a significant amount of positive feedback ... specifically that it had answered many people's questions about the rules leaving no need for further changes to the rules," the Office of Compassionate Use said in a statement.
For potential growers, applications and approval also means an ability to produce a $5 million performance bond.
“Growers think of getting this license as winning the golden ticket," said Bridget Bateman, a mother of a child with epilepsy. "Winning the golden ticket for me means curing my child. My battle everyday is not how much money I'm going to make but is my kid going to live through the day, is he going to start breathing again after this two minute seizure, is there something that can help?”
The final rule was drafted during three days of meetings in February involving nursery reps, advocates, state officials and a Colorado grower who co-invented Charlotte's Web. Growers who receive DOH approval will have 210 days to bring Charlotte’s Web to market, according to the plan.
» Captive breeding may be the last chance to save Florida's grasshopper sparrow, North America's most endangered bird. (Via Audubon)