It was almost a year ago that Florida’s Department of Health finally approved five nurseries – out of the twenty eight that applied. This was after over a year of court battles that had delayed their ability to move forward. Unfortunately, the Department of Health isn’t out of court just yet as, a year later, judges are only now preparing to hear cases where nurseries are challenging the decisions made by the DOH when it came to which ones were awarded licenses.
The first to be heard is McCrory’s Sunny Hill Nursery, which lost out to Knox Nursery for the central Florida dispensing organization license. In their challenge, they believe that their nursery actually tied with Knox – therefore it was unfairly denied a chance at the license (if there had been a tie, then it would have been determined by the reviewers, two out of three of whom were in favor of Sunny Hill).
However, the scores were not an exact tie – Sunny Hill lost to Knox by 0.0041 (Knox with a score of 5.5458 and Sunny Hill scoring 5.5417) and by that small margin, Knox was awarded the license. Since then, it appears that Knox has not made good on their promised plan of action – with no greenhouses built and having posted their funds just outside of a 10 day deadline according to McCrory’s, who was hoping to use this information as evidence that Knox lacked the means to keep their word and that the license should have been awarded to them.
The Department of Health has argued that including that information would be unfair, and the judge has agreed with them.
“I think the comparison has to be on the applications that were reviewed and addressed by the department because that is the basis on which I could make a determination as to whether McCrory’s was entitled to be the DO (dispensing organization) instead of Knox,” the judge said. “McCrory’s has not had the opportunity to move forward to implement its application so it’s an uneven comparison if I were to consider how Knox has gone forth to perform after being licensed.”
At this point, the final determination for this case is expected by October 28th – and the judge will make a decision based entirely on the applications originally submitted to the Department of Health last year. If they find that they believe it should have been a tie – or that Sunny Hill should have been awarded the license, then they will win their case and become the seventh grower to be licensed in Florida – laws in place will allow currently licensed facilities to keep their license regardless of how these challenges turn out, in order to keep products on the market without interruption.