July 7, 2016 – POLITICO
by Daniel Ducassi
A state administrative judge on Thursday said he’s keeping a list of investors in a medical marijuana company private, arguing that it’s “a nice thing to do.”
Administrative law judge R. Bruce McKibben’s decision to keep the names under wraps is part of a challenge to the state’s rejection of a Jacksonville nursery’s application for a medical cannabis dispensing license.
Unlike some of the other companies that have challenged Florida Department of Health decisions regarding licenses, Loop’s Nursery boasts the backing of key people who catalyzed the passage of Florida’s medical marijuana bill, which launched the licensing program.
But the corporate structure involving some of those people, including one of the co-developers of the Charlotte’s Web strain of low THC cannabis, is becoming part of the state’s case that the company shouldn’t have been awarded a license.
The state’s lead attorney in the case, Eduardo Lombard, insisted that the names of the investors in Ray of Hope 4 Florida — the company that holds the only license to grow the trademarked strain in Florida, and would license to Loop’s the rights to grow it in Florida for a royalty fee — must be on the record.
Ultimately, the names were written on a piece of paper and given to the judge.
The department did not provide any exemption in the law that allows them to hold on to the records while waiting for an interested party to block the release of the records.
A spokeswoman for the department said an order from McKibben requires the agency to give Loop’s lawyers notice if officials plan to release records that have been claimed as trade secrets.
However, as the department’s letter notes, “an administrative order cannot create an exemption or exclusion to Florida’s Public Records Act.” [READ MORE]