Marijuana ID contract challenge dropped

Cannabis industry booming in Florida.
Cannabis industry booming in Florida.

A vendor that lost out on a lucrative contract to process medical-marijuana patient identification cards has dropped a legal challenge, according to documents filed Tuesday.

Automated Health Solutions filed the protest after state health officials decided to award the contract to Jacksonville-based Veritec.

Despite the challenge, state Surgeon General Celeste Philip last week used her emergency powers to move forward with the Veritec contract, citing a need “to avoid an immediate and serious danger to public health.”

Patients have complained about months-long delays in getting the cards, which are required before they can purchase marijuana products from state-sanctioned dispensaries after doctors order the treatment.

Lawmakers publicly questioned state pot czar Christian Bax about the hold-ups, which he blamed on his office's inability to move forward with the outsourcing of the ID cards.

After the Department of Health announced its intent to grant the $7.4 million contract to Veritec, Automated Health Solutions --- which bid about $9.3 million --- filed the protest.

The challenge threatened to delay for months the outsourcing of the ID cards, ordered by lawmakers in a sweeping bill passed in June.

That bill was intended to carry out a voter-approved constitutional amendment broadly legalizing medical marijuana.