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Health News Florida

Group Launches Another Challenge To Pot Rule

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WUSF Public Media

A trade association Wednesday challenged the Florida Department of Health's plan for carrying out a new medical-marijuana law, adding to two challenges filed earlier in the week.

The Florida Medical Cannabis Association is asking an administrative law judge to reject a department rule unveiled this month. The earlier challenges were filed by nurseries Plants of Ruskin, Inc., and Costa Farms.

The cases stem from a law passed this spring that allows strains of marijuana low in euphoria-inducing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and high in cannabadiol, or CBD.

Supporters say the substances, known by the nickname ‘Charlotte’s Web,” can help children with severe forms of epilepsy and some people with other medical conditions.

Plants of Ruskin and Costa Farms meet legal requirements to apply for licenses to grow, process and distribute the substances.

But the association and growers take issue with parts of the rule and contend, in part, that that department has overstepped its rulemaking authority.

Similar to the challenge filed by Plants of Ruskin, the association argued Wednesday that the department's proposals "fail to establish even minimum criteria to evaluate (a license) applicant's financial, technical and technological ability to securely cultivate and produce low-THC cannabis."

Reservist Files Suit Against State Agency, Scott

An Army reservist and state employee has filed suit in Leon County circuit court against Gov. Rick Scott and officials at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, saying he was demoted and had his pay cut in part because of his service commitments.

Master Sgt. Walter Kreitlow, who has worked for DBPR since 2006 and has been deployed overseas twice since he was hired, said the treatment violates state and federal laws meant to protect service members.

Kreitlow said he was demoted and forced to take a pay cut in 2011 after his position was terminated, something he blamed on his commitments with the military. Kreitlow was offered a chance to avoid the demotion by taking another job in Miami.

"In addition to fighting our enemy abroad, I was forced to fight for my job back home," Kreitlow said. He also dismissed the possibility of a political vendetta in an election year.

"In fact, I was a registered Republican and I proudly voted for Rick Scott in 2010," Kreitlow told reporters during a conference call.

On Wednesday, the department released an email from 2011, with the subject line, "Thank you for thinking of my family ...," that didn't reflect any complaints by Kreitlow about his treatment. "My family and I would love to remain home in Tallahassee, and I appreciate the opportunity to transition into the Tallahassee District Office," he wrote then. "I'm excited about the new challenges, look forward to working with the Tallahassee DO Team and know that I will be a contributing factor to their success. However, I may struggle in growing a Goatee HA!"

DBPR also released its two responses to Kreitlow's complaints to the U.S. Department of Labor.

"The agency categorically denies that any action affecting Mr. Kreitlow has been as a result of his military participation," one of the responses said. "This agency has historically been very supportive of Mr. Kreitlow's military service and is proud to recognize our active members of the armed services and veterans for their service to this nation."

Kreitlow and his attorney said the Labor Department found that evidence backed up his claims.

John Tupps, a spokesman for Scott, issued a brief statement in response to the lawsuit. "Mr. Kreitlow continues to work at DBPR, and we appreciate Mr. Kreitlow’s continued service to our country and our state," Tupps said.

FSU President Finalist to Address Students, Faculty Via Skype

Florida State University presidential finalist Michael V. Martin will appear Thursday at a series of forums with students and faculty via a Skype video connection.

Martin, chancellor of the Colorado State University system, was expected to be in Tallahassee on Wednesday for the question-and-answer sessions but became unable to travel after undergoing emergency surgery for a detached retina.

The open campus forums will still be held in FSU's Augustus B. Turnbull III Florida State Conference Center.

The university's Presidential Search Advisory Committee is using the forums to gather input on the finalists from staff, students and faculty. The 27-member committee is scheduled to recommend a new president next Monday, with the issue going to the university's Board of Trustees the following day.

Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine addressed the groups Monday and Michele G. Wheatly, who until June had been provost at West Virginia University, held court Tuesday.

The fourth finalist, Richard B. Marchase, University of Alabama at Birmingham vice president for research and economic development, is set to appear in person Friday.