Membership closely guarded by medical pot trade group

By JOHN HOWELL The Daily Fray
April 1, 2015 9:57 pm


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Clifford Wolff of Wolff Law Firm

For a newly minted, seemingly reclusive statewide organization, the Medical Cannabis Trade Association of Florida is notable for its surprise arrival on the Charlotte's Web scene – and for reaction to its sudden existence by a state lawmaker.

“In response to Representative [Matt] Gaetz, his comment suggests [the MCTA] is seeking publicity. This is simply not true,” said Clifford Wolff, a Fort Lauderdale attorney. “In fact, members of the MCTA desire not to have their names in the press, and they respectfully decline to be identified in news articles to avoid publicity.”

Last week Wolff filed a lawsuit for the MCTA against the state Department of Health that challenges regulations for Charlotte’s Web. The action raised the pending lawsuits against state health officials to three. In court papers, the MCTA is described as an advocate for nurseries that intend to apply for medical marijuana licenses. 

Gaetz sponsored Charlotte’s Web, which was signed into law last year. When Gaetz heard about the MCTA, he reportedly said, “I think a lot of these associations that have recently appeared are snake oil salesmen. I think this is an instance of people who simply want to get their names in the newspaper.”

The MCTA was incorporated as a non-profit March 20 in Delaware, a state that offers rapid, even one-hour, processing. Papers were filed with Florida’s Division of Corporations March 25. In online application records, the MCTA “first conducted affairs in Florida” on March 24, when the MCTA filed papers against the health department.

The MCTA got in under the wire, submitting its lawsuit 20 minutes before a state-mandated deadline. The group nosed out a third lawsuit against the health department by 8 minutes.

"We do not desire publicity, as Representative Gaetz improperly suggests," Wolff said Wednesday in an email. "We prefer to focus on the petition at this time.


Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach (via Tampa Bay Times)

“Although the Department of Health, with the best of intentions, has put forth a set of rules in the hope of moving the process along quickly, the MCTA is concerned that these rules will not produce the desired outcomes.”

Wolff is not listed as an officer in the MCTA. Robert J. Wolff is chairman and president. The group is based at Clifford Wolff’s law office on East Broward Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale.

“Robert Wolff is an advocate for properly regulated medical cannabis,” Wolff said. “Robert happens to be a family member who believes that properly regulated medical marijuana can assist the citizens of Florida. Robert has private concerns that can be potentially placated through properly regulated medical cannabis.”

That seems unlikely via the health department, unsuccessful so far in two attempts at regulating Charlotte's Web. The original go-date was Jan. 1. A Senate bill designed to cut Charlotte’s Web’s red tape is advancing slowly. And that effort is generating fresh opposition.

“There are no requirements for independent lab testing to ensure safe products,” Wolff said. “Additionally, there is no clarity as to which factors in the nursery selection process have more weight than other factors in the process.”

Patient advocates were hitting a new emotional low, according to a report in Politics of Pot.

“For thousands of Florida families this issue means the difference between life or death. This cannot wait another year,” said a spokesman for the parents of a Pensacola child with epilepsy.


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