Charlotte's Web: Financial interests, bias alleged in lawsuit

By JOHN HOWELL The Daily Fray
March 13, 2015 4:04 pm

medicalpot (Medium).jpgRegulations to grow, cultivate and dispense Charlotte's Web are “arbitrary and capricious,” were framed by policymakers with a financial stake in medical marijuana, and are politically biased, a lawsuit against the state Department of Health alleges. But that’s not all, a Jacksonville attorney says.

In a 59-page legal challenge, attorney Ian Christensen is trying to send Charlotte’s Web back to the drawing board -- for a third time. In court papers, Christensen wants proposed regulations for non-euphoric medical pot nullified on a variety of grounds, including no pesticide controls. A judge rejected an initial rulemaking effort by state health officials last year.


Ian Christensen of Health Services Law.

» Patricia Nelson: “The department will take every possible action to minimize the delay this rule challenge has created."

“Overall, the proposed rule fails to provide any objective methods to determine whether an eligible [grower] is superior at growing low-THC cannabis,” Christensen writes in the lawsuit. “This ‘red-tape’ ensures only the most politically connected, not the best qualified applicant, are approved.”

Christensen's client is a 4-year-old girl with an inoperable brain tumor who is using medical marijuana for relief, according to the lawsuit. Her mother's choice of a lawyer might seem odd: Christensen publically opposed Amendment 2.

“The department will take every possible action to minimize the delay this rule challenge has created in getting this product to Florida's children who need it," Patricia Nelson, director of the Office for Compassionate Use, said in a statement.

The proposed 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. The proposal recently withstood a 21-day period of public comment. Applications from growers were anticipated as early as April 15.

The Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act was signed into law June 16.


Holley Moseley, the mother of RayAnn Moseley, a Pensacola child with intractable epilepsy. (Via The Florida Channel)

In the lawsuit, “Ms. Nelson berated numerous individuals for their ‘lack of concern for the children,’ and another committee member previously made the public statement that ‘anyone seeking to challenge or question the rule at this point is doing so to further stall the rulemaking process and for their personal gain.’ ” Also: "at minimum, 8 of the 11 additional members of the panel not including Ms. Nelson have known vested financial and corporate interests in the implementation of this rule."

Said Nelson: "We have maintained an unprecedented, open process for developing this rule framework."

Hopes were high recently for a network of patient guardians and advocates, including the parents of RayAnn Moseley, who has epilepsy. A spokesman for the Moseleys issued a statement.

“The Moseleys are heartsick to learn of the challenge to the Charlotte’s Web rule. Following the last hearing, they felt confident that all of the stakeholders in the rulemaking process were happy and ready to move forward.”

Christensen is a partner in Health Services Law and says Florida law already allows medical marijuana in severe cases. He explained his reasoning to the Florida News Service last year, leading John Morgan, a lawyer and the architect of Amendment 2, to quip, "It’s so bizarre it’s like up there with aliens arriving and Elvis is still alive."



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