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Nursery Files Lawsuit To Continue Cultivation Of Marijuana

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Wikimedia Commons
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

An Alachua County nursey filed a lawsuit Wednesday to prevent any delays in the cultivation and dispensing of medical marijuana in northeast Florida.

Chestnut Hill Tree Farm was one of five businesses granted a license last November by the Department of Health's Office of Compassionate Use to grow and dispense low-THC strains of marijuana. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Leon County Circuit Court.

Two organizations that did not win the license for the northeast Florida have filed challenges with the Department of Administrative Hearings over how the licenses were awarded. John Lockwood, the attorney for Chestnut Hill, said in an emailed statement that the reason for the lawsuit is to eliminate the doubt and uncertainty created by the challenges.

The southeast is the only region without any administrative challenges, injunctions or stays on the process. Costa Farms has the license in that region.

Plants of Ruskin, which has a challenge pending in the southwest region, asked for a stay in the process, but an administrative judge ruled last Friday that DOAH can't stop the process. Judge John G. Van Laningham did say that licenses are not final until the administrative challenges are complete.

The five licensees have until Feb. 7 to request cultivation authorization. Chestnut Hill owner Robert Wallace said before the Florida Senate's Regulated Industries committee on Jan. 14 that the nursery is on pace to meet that deadline and should be able to dispense by late summer.

Wallace said that Chestnut Hill will have a dispensary close to Shands Hospital in Gainesville along with home delivery across the state.

Christian Bax, the director of the Office of Compassionate Use, said during the hearing that one of the five nurseries has issues with its $5 million performance bond and that the license could be revoked if not rectified. Mara Gambineri with the Department of Health told The Associated Press that the organization is Knox Nursery in the central region. Gambineri said the department was notified that the bond was going to be revoked in March and Knox is now working to resolve the situation.