Leading contender in line for state approved medical marijuana dispensary caught misleading board about medical background and association with DEA.
By Jacob Engels
In the 2013 Legislative Session, a bill was passed that allows non-euphoric strains of medical marijuana to be recommended to treat children afflicted with epilepsy and other traumatic illnesses. A series of requirements were insisted upon, one of which was a requirement that to apply for a permit to grow and dispense…you must have a nursery that has operated for 30 continuous years.
One such nursery, Chestnut Hill Tree Farm, of Alachua, Florida, claims to have met those requirements. The nursery’s owner, a man named Robert Wallace, has signposted his intention to apply for a permit to grow this potentially highly profitable strain.
In January, a committee was appointed to negotiate the rule-making process that would govern how to assess the applicant nurseries and award these lucrative contracts. Five nursery owners desirous of obtaining a permit represented the community of nursery owners on this panel.
Robert Wallace, owner of Chestnut Hill.
Bob Wallace represented the northeast region. Through a public records request, we obtained the application Wallace sent to Patty Nelson, Director of Compassionate Use, in which he stated:
“Chestnut Hill Tree Farm is one of the 6 qualified nursery operations for SB 1030 in the NE Florida Region. Wallace is working with Doctors at the College of Pharmacy and the College of Medicine at the UF Health to develop testing programs for Charlottes Web and other diverse medical uses for marijuana that will provide for the mandate of SB 1030 for medical research. The College of Pharmacy has DEA clearance to work on Schedule 1 drugs, and a group of professors are being organized by Wallace to cooperatively pursue Phase 2 and 3 laboratory and clinical testing for different illnesses and various treatment programs with both private and public funding.”
Patty Nelson, presumably intrigued by such a unique offering, wrote back that – based on Wallace’s representation – that she was “…optimistic about moving this forward” on his appointment to the panel. On January 16, Wallace and four other nursery owners were appointed to the negotiated rule-making committee.
There’s just one little problem…based on a fact-check from the University of Florida itself, it appears that Wallace’s application IS ALL A LIE. It appears that either Bob Wallace is a liar, or is conducting illegal research, which could be a very serious felony. Both of which make Bob Wallace a real piece of work.
Dante reserved the hottest places in hell for hypocrites, but I’m not certain that Dante ever contemplated a man that would jeopardize the health and well being of severely ill children to give his nursery a better chance at receiving a permit to make money. But that is, apparently, what this man did.
Burn baby burn….
In an email forwarded from a reader, Bill Millard, the Associate Dean for Administrative and Research Affairs at the UF Department of Pharmacy, clearly lays the foundation that Bob Wallace misled Patty Nelson.
On Sun, Feb 8, 2015 at 5:53 PM, a reader who provided us with a copy of his chain of communication wrote the following to Dean Millard (email in its entirety).
I hope you had a great weekend. Based on some information I received, I wonder if you can help clarify some things for me?
I’m contacting you to see if the UF College of Pharmacy or UF College of Medicine is currently conducting (or plans to conduct) a testing program for the Charlotte’s Web strain of cannabis or other diverse medical uses for marijuana that will provide for the mandate of Senate Bill 1030 for medical research?
Or if your department has plans to pursue Phase 2 and 3 laboratory and clinical testing for different illnesses and various treatment programs involving cannabis?
Thank you in advance for any information you can provide on this matter.
The reader, clearly referencing Mr. Wallace’s claims regarding research, directed this verification request to the one man who would most certainly know.
On Friday, February 20, Dean Millard replied (email in its entirety):
On Fri, Feb 20, 2015 at 3:08 PM, Millard,William J
There are faculty within the College of Pharmacy with a research interest in cannabis. However, none of the faculty have a DEA license to work with cannabis at the present time, which is required for conducting Phase 2 and 3 research. The College is now focused on meeting our legislative mandate, which concerns an evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of low THC cannabis. The information that will be used for that purpose will be available from treatment plans submitted to the College of Pharmacy by ordering physicians.
We hope this information addresses your questions about the role of the College of Pharmacy.
Hmmmm. It would seem that Wallace is less than truthful.
Is Wallace lying about doing research on marijuana at the University of Florida? We can’t conclusively say that he is isn’t, but if he isn’t lying, is he doing research without the proper clearances or permits and breaking a whole host of state and federal laws in the process? That is, according to the guy who – you know – runs the place.
Or maybe, and probably more likely, Bob Wallace just lied about his involvement in an attempt to set himself apart. His plan might have just been to lie his way on to the committee (to then advocate for policies that would help him win the permit)?
In his application, Wallace claimed the following (repeating to point out exactly how egregious this lie is):
“The College of Pharmacy has DEA clearance to work on Schedule 1 drugs, and a group of professors are being organized by Wallace to cooperatively pursue Phase 2 and 3 laboratory and clinical testing for different illnesses and various treatment programs with both private and public funding.”
Dean Millard specifically responds with this rather unambiguous language:
“However, none of the faculty have a DEA license to work with cannabis at the present time, which is required for conducting Phase 2 and 3 research.”
And as for claims by Wallace that he or his nursery will be involved in the specific studies to meet the legislative requirements for research under SB1030, Dean Millard again refutes those assertions that any nurseryman will take part in these studies. Millard responds:
“The information that will be used for that purpose will be available from treatment plans submitted to the College of Pharmacy by ordering physicians.”
Unless Wallace is also an “ordering physician” it seems that his web of lies continues to get more and more tangled.
Adding to this, in a previous interview, this is what Carol Motycka, Assistant Dean and Campus Director of the UF College of Pharmacy, had to say:
“The College of Medicine and the College of Pharmacy are not involved in any direct patient or drug studies. We can’t touch the product…”
And in another previous statement, UF Spokeswoman Janine Sikes stated:
“The University of Florida receives hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government, primarily in research grants and student financial aid. Federal law prohibits possession, cultivation, manufacturing and distribution of marijuana. Violating federal law threatens the federal funding UF receives. As a state agency, UF is required to comply with the law.”
From the looks of these official statements, Bob Wallace lied. Normally, we in journalistic communities revel in catching someone so flatly lying to line their own pocketbooks, but this is different for me. I happen to want the children and citizens of this state to have access to this promising new treatment. By his apparent reckless lies, Wallace opens the state (and indeed the whole procurement process) up to unnecessary scrutiny.
Wallace produces chestnuts as bait for hunters to attract deer.
Will a losing nursery challenge the rule based on this seemingly untruthful application? Will this result in delays or protests? Will the work of this negotiated rule-making committee ultimately be tainted by his apparent lies?
Furthermore, can we honestly expect a man (who would seem to so egregiously lie to get on the panel) to play by the rule of law when ON the panel? Or in his future application? Or as a trusted provider of medicine to our state’s sickest children?
Is Bob Wallace a liar or is he illegally conducting research or what? I suspect we will know soon enough.
Might want to get your facts straight now, Bob…before your other lies get exposed. Is making a quick buck more important than helping sick children?
Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post & Seminole County Post. He is a seasoned political operative who has led numerous statewide political groups and has worked on several high-profile local, statewide, and national races. Jacob has been interviewed on national television & radio programs, with his work having been featured in the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and other publications nationwide. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org