Canadian Cannabis Producer, Aphria, has a license in Florida and recently filed a motion to intervene with Trulieve‘s whole flower cannabis product designed for vaping, per statutory requirements. The motion was filed on December 4th, 2017. You can read the full text of Aphria’s Motion to Intervene. Or you can download the PDF here. We have looked over the entire document and it appears that Aphria is scared that Trulieve’s whole flower product will hurt their sales. Instead of focusing on their business model and executing, Aphria is playing catch up by obstructing Florida patients constitutional rights to the whole flower.
Aphria is trying to slow down the natural development of the Florida medical marijuana program because they are falling behind in the marketplace. Aphria just recently acquired a license to cultivate by purchasing Chestnut Hill. Chestnut Hill, or CHT was one of the original license awardees in the medical marijuana program in Florida, but since Aphria just came in from Canada they are just getting started. Instead of focussing on adapting to the natural evolution of the medical marijuana program in Florida they are trying to delay growth at the cost of Florida cannabis patients. Some of the key quotes from the motion to intervene are…..
Note: Aphria is known as DFMMJ for legal purposes.
The opening addresses what they are seeking to intervene with…
On November 8, 2017, George Hackney, Inc. d/b/a Trulieve (“Petitioner”), a licensed medical marijuana treatment center (“MMTC”), filed a Petition for Declaratory Statement (the “Petition”) seeking a declaration from the Department of Health (the “Department”) regarding whether Petitioner has a “right to sell and dispense (a) ground marijuana flower vapable products in ceramic vaporizer cups; and (b) Volcano vaporizers, together with a base and sleeve that fits the vaporizer cup into the vaporizer, for use by qualified patients[.]”
So one of the few license holders is actively petitioning the Department of Health, not for the protection of patients, or to provide new and improved products to patients. No, Aphria is actively petitioning the Florida Department of Health to prevent constitutionally procured rights of Florida patients.
“Although the Petitioner has framed the issue as whether, pursuant to section 120.60(1), Florida Statutes, it has a license to dispense the vapable marijuana flower products and delivery devices described in the Petition, the actual issue in this proceeding is whether section 381.986 authorizes the Petitioner to dispense the products described in the Petition.”
The above quote was taken from footnotes in the document filed by Aphria. The above quote is laughable considering the product in question is a whole flower cannabis product and the definition provided for in 381.986 is as follows
(f)“Marijuana” means all parts of any plant of the genus Cannabis, whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant or its seeds or resin, including low-THC cannabis, which are dispensed from a medical marijuana treatment center for medical use by a qualified patient.
and it goes on further to define what a Marijuana delivery device is…
(g) “Marijuana delivery device” means an object used, intended for use, or designed for use in preparing, storing, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing marijuana into the human body, and which is dispensed from a medical marijuana treatment center for medical use by a qualified patient.
The most telling quote comes in paragraph 9
“The Department’s answer to the question presented in the Petition will directly and immediately impact DFMMJ’s interests by affecting the products which can be sold and dispensed to qualified patients in Florida. This impact is an injury in fact because the Department’s determination will affect DFMMJ’s production processes, product line, and sales. The injury in fact is immediate because the impact to DFMMJ’s interests is not dependent upon any intervening factors. If the Petition is granted, the products identified in the Petition can immediately be sold and dispensed in Florida……”
Basically what they are saying is they do not want the product to come out because they will have their sales negatively impacted.
Although Aphria has tried their best to change the narrative of the issue at hand, their own argument appears to fall flat at face value, without the overreaching implications on the patient population.
Trulieve has filed a response to the petition. You can download the full pdf here. Trulieve is an all Florida team that is now engaged in a battle for Florida’s patients against a company that’s not only from out of state, but from Canada. The following quotes are from Trulieve’s petition that was filed December
DFMMJ offers only a nebulous and unsupported conclusory argument that this proceeding will affect its substantial interest….This declaratory statement will not affect DFMMJ’s product lines. DFMMJ is free to produce and sell any lawful medical marijuana products to qualified patients. DFMMJ alleges no specific injury in fact if Trulieve’s approval is granted, and the nature of any hypothetical injury to DFMMJ is not one from which DFMMJ enjoys legal protection.
Trulieve is not asking DOH to limit DFMMJ’s or anyone else’s products. It is speculative that DOH would artificially limit competition in any case. Indeed, DFMMJ seems to assume that if DOH approves Trulieve’s products as requested, it will allow other MMTCs to sell similar products. DFMMJ (a successor to one of the five original licensed DO’s, Chestnut Hill Tree Farm), may not have focused on developing and marketing vaping products, but it assumed that risk in timing its business investment. DFMMJ’s business strategy is not a legal injury or a reason to delay Trulieve from selling products to qualified patients.
DFMMJ’s real purpose in moving to intervene appears to be just to slow down the approval process, as a way to delay Trulieve from marketing these products to qualified patients who need them, and give DFMMJ more time to catch up in developing competing products.
DFMMJ’s delay tactic will also deprive qualified patients of products they need, for no lawful reason. This attempt to suppress innovation and hinder competition is not only contrary to Trulieve’s license rights, but is contrary to DOH’s constitutional and legislative duty to “ensure availability” of medical marijuana products to qualified patients through licensed MMTCs. See Fla. Const. Art. X § 29(d) and Fla. Stat. § 381.986(8)(a).
In sum, DFMMJ’s motion to intervene, in order to delay the entitled approval and dispensing of these products, has no factual or legal basis, and is unlawful and unfair. DFMMJ fails to even state its position on this new issue. A call to DFMMJ’s counsel pointing out this omission failed to produce clarification, suggesting DFMMJ’s real interest is in delay
Trulieve has clearly outlined the real reason behind the Canadian company Aphria trying to delay them releasing a whole flower product to patients. PROFITS.