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Draft Rules From The Department Of Health Limit The Potential Number Of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

January 19, 2017

By: Tara L. Tedrow

The Department of Health (“DOH”) has issued only seven medical marijuana dispensing organization licenses, and based on draft rules proposed this week, that number may not change.

Amendment 2 increased the number of patients potentially eligible for medical marijuana by expanding the scope of qualifying debilitating conditions. However, the number of organizations permitted to grow, process and sell that medical marijuana hinges on how the DOH and legislature implement rules over the next six months.

In a draft set of rules released by the DOH, Rule 64-4.012 outlines how patients could obtain and physicians could order medical marijuana.  Aside from expanding the medical ailments treatable with medical marijuana, these draft regulations essentially mirrored what statutory law already permitted. However, a critical issue resolved by the rules was whether “medical marijuana treatment centers” would be limited to those groups currently licensed, or whether Florida would have a more free market system of dispensing medical marijuana. Contrary to what some advocacy groups had hoped, the DOH kept “medical marijuana treatment center” in line with the current definition of a dispensing organization, meaning that the seven licensed groups would still be the only eligible organizations to dispense marijuana. Though there remains potential for more dispensing organizations to be awarded licenses in the future, it will require 250,000 qualified patients to register with the DOH’s compassionate use registry. Currently, less than 1% of that required benchmark has registered.

Rule development workshops will be held across the State during the week of February 6th. If these draft rules withstand the reviews and debates to be had by industry players, lobbyists, citizens and government officials, then medical marijuana treatment centers will remain under the control of a limited number of organizations statewide. Though more patients may now be qualified to have medical marijuana as a treatment option, there likely will not be more organizations dispensing that marijuana.

DISCLAIMER: Notwithstanding state marijuana laws that may exempt individuals and entities from state criminal prosecution, parties may remain subject to federal criminal prosecution as marijuana remains a Schedule I drug under federal law.

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Tara Tedrow is a shareholder in the firm’s Land Use, Zoning & Environmental Group and serves as chair of the Cannabis & Controlled Substances Group. She brings years of experience handling an array of complex legal matters for multi-billion dollar valued companies and entrepreneurs alike.
With a significant portion of her practice devoted to land use and development, Tara regularly advises clients on entitling projects for commercial, residential, industrial, office and mixed uses. She works with local governments and regulatory agencies to address the needs of her clients related to environmental permitting and compliance, zoning, comprehensive plans, concurrency, site plan approval, variance and waiver requests, due diligence and property rights.

Often sought out for high-profile and high-stakes land development projects, Tara has delivered positive outcomes for clients ranging from large multi-national and U.S.-based companies to high-net worth individuals seeking land use entitlements. With over 15 years of competitive debate experience, she is uniquely suited to handle complex and controversial projects and public hearings that present a myriad of political and legal challenges.

Tara has provided developers and clients with legal counsel and representation in Section 70.51 mediations. Her experience in land use and environmental dispute resolutions offers a unique benefit to clients navigating the alternative dispute resolution process following denial of a development order, zoning approval and other land use matters around the state.

Well-known for providing legal and lobbying representation for a wide range of cannabis clients, Tara and her team work with physicians, lenders, real estate developers, landlords, ancillary service providers, banks, licensed adult use and medical marijuana companies, cultivators, processors, retailers and license applicants, helping them to navigate the ever-changing regulatory landscape of marijuana and hemp regulations. She also assists clients in the national hemp industry in obtaining licensing and approvals for processing, retailing, cultivation and other forms of secondary byproduct monetization. Her deep knowledge of regulatory laws and understanding of operations and logistics for cannabis companies, along with her ability to make connections and build partnerships, bring strategic value to her clients. 

Tara is the only person in the state of Florida to be appointed by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to both the inaugural Industrial Hemp Advisory Council created under Senate Bill 1020 and to the state’s Hemp Advisory Committee, which she currently chairs. A prolific presenter and speaker at industry seminars and conferences, she has served as the keynote speaker on industry regulations at over 60 events in the past two years. In the fall of 2018, Tara became the first professor in the state of Florida to teach a law school course on marijuana law and policy at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where she continues to teach today.

Prior to joining the firm, Tara worked as a legal extern for the University of Florida General Counsel and Office of the Vice President as well as for the Orlando Juvenile Public Defenders Office. For over a decade, she has also worked professionally as a private speech and debate coach and taught at multiple national debate institutes, including the National Debate Forum at Emerson University, the National Symposium for Debate at Grinnell College and Victory Briefs Institute at UCLA.

Tara is a contributing writer at the Orlando Sentinel and has spoken about various real estate topics on Fox News.

To view Tara's information specific to Land Use or Cannabis, click the corresponding links below. 

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