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Sheriff Warns Against Misleading Medical Pot Scams “Popping Up All Over Palm Coast”

| May 16, 2017

medical marijuana scams

Not yet ready for prime time. (Coleen Elliott)

Where there’s no smoke, there are scams: the Florida Legislature’s failure this month to reach agreement on implementation of a voter-approved constitutional amendment to make medical marijuana accessible to qualifying patients is prolonging uncertainty about the permissible and the banned and creating unintended vacuums that scammers have been quick to fill.

The scams have spread wide enough to cause the state Department of Health to intervene with warnings.. And now, according to Palm Coast government officials, the scams are trying to lure Palm Coast residents with false promises of “marijuana licenses.”

“Signs for legal weed have been popping up all over Palm Coast Florida,” Jay Maher, the city’s business tax receipts supervisor, wrote the state Attorney General, referring to a yard signs that have appeared in town, announcing “LEGAL WEED” for a $199 office visit (see the picture below.)

Maher called the number. “For $199.00 and $10.00 a month they will issue me a Marijuana License,” he wrote. “But first I need to provide them my drivers
license number and a credit card. I think it is pretty clear that it is a scam.”

legal weed

A sign found in Palm Coast. (FCSO)

It is: Only the state Office of Compassionate Use may legally issue identification cards for medical pot in the state. It has no third-party contractors. It does not even accept credit cards as a form of payment currently.

In Flagler County, only two physicians are currently on the Office of Compassionate Use’s list of physicians qualified to order medical marijuana: Luis Galano-Lavin on Round Tree Drive in Palm Coast, and Michael Sandborn at 9 Pine Cone Drive in Palm Coast.

Maher only got back a form letter from the office of Pam Bondi, the attorney general that has clearly been crafted to address recurring issues related to the confusion over medical marijuana’s status in the state: the office directed Maher to contact either the Office of Compassionate Use or the State Department of Health, which oversees the office.

Mayor Milissa Holland brought up the issue of the signs at this morning’s Palm Coast City Council meeting, wondering if the city had a plan beyond just taking them down. “We take them down as soon as we see them. It is a scam, it’s not just Palm Coast,” City Manager Jim Landon said, though he did not have information about the people at the origin of the signs. He directed the city’s public information officer to work with the sheriff’s office and issue a release.

“Don’t be taken in with the hope of getting medical marijuana. The only thing you will get is the loss of your money; this is truly smoke and mirrors,” Sheriff Rick Staly is quoted as saying in the release.

Click On:

“I just would hate that people who actually need medical marijuana and who are suffering to call this number and get scammed by this, knowing that the discussions are going on statewide,” Holland said. “I’ve not seen the signs but I got a call that they’re popping up at several locations.”

Last week negotiations between the Florida House and Senate collapsed when the two sides could not agree on the number of dispensaries that should be available across the state: The Senate wanted a cap of just 10 retail outlets, the House wanted a cap of 100. The Amendment, approved by more than 70 percent of Florida voters, did not call for caps. So any likely rules reverted back to the state Department of Health, which has taken a far more stringent and restrictive approach to the implementation of medical pot allowances in the state.

Numerous local governments–including all of Flagler’s governments, Palm Coast among them–adopted moratoriums on allowing medical-marijuana-related businesses in their jurisdictions, justifying the moratoriums by citing the Legislature’s impending role, and the assumed clarity that was to emerge from the last legislative session, which ended last week. Lawmakers are facing criticism over the failure of the deal, and have considered a special session.

The result has been more rather than less confusion, seeding crops of scammers and opportunists.

The Health Department provides the following tips:

  • The department’s Office of Compassionate Use is the only entity issuing identification cards for medical marijuana in Florida. No third party is authorized to process applications. Do not provide credit card information to any third party entity advertising the ability to obtain medical      marijuana cards.
  • The department does not currently accept credit cards as a form of payment for an Office of Compassionate Use identification card. There is no need to ever provide your credit card information to the department’s Office of Compassionate Use.
  • There are seven dispensing organizations authorized to cultivate, process and dispense medical marijuana. These seven are the only businesses in Florida authorized to dispense medical marijuana to qualified patients and legal representatives.
  • The Office of Compassionate Use maintains a list of physicians who have completed the required 8 hour education course. To find a qualified ordering physician click here.     

To report scams to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services call 1-800-HELP-FLA (1-800-435-7352). To report fraud to the Attorney General’s office call 1-866-966-7226.

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12 Responses for “Sheriff Warns Against Misleading Medical Pot Scams “Popping Up All Over Palm Coast””

  1. PCer says:

    70% of the people say “we want pot!” the government says “okay, but really no, you can’t have it – we know what is best for you.” Isn’t’ the GOP the party of small government???

  2. Good News! No Pot says:

    Im warning you all, If Pot gets to be legal Its gonna be a huge problem, lotta stoned people on the roads. I think part of the problem is people remember pot like from back in the 70’s or 80’s, I am here to tell you it is a way different scene now, totally unfitting for palm coast. Lets see what happens in Daytona, and St augustine… If someone is sick with documented cancer, and pot helps thats great, but if all you need is an online RX scrip for “anxiety” this is where the wall will be breached.

  3. Wishful thinking says:

    This refusal to just legalize pot once and for all is reason to call us what we are: Flagler Funny Farm.
    Time to respect the voters and cut the holier than thou crap..

  4. Jon putney says:

    That’s how our government works. 70% of the voters say yes and 5-8 old fuckers slow down the process. Man I really hate politicians

  5. Harvey says:


  6. George says:

    People demonizing marijuana need to grow up, long gone are the days of “reefer madness.” Weed is 100% legal in several states now, anarchy hasn’t erupted, “gateway drugs” are a myth, people using it aren’t suddenly peddling heroin to school children. Oh yeah, and the legal sale of it is making billions of dollars for state economies, millions of taxpayer dollars are saved by not putting those innocent people in jail and crime rates are lower altogether. No one in the history of mankind has ever died from using it, unlike prescription drugs. Who’d have thunk it?

  7. Dave says:

    70% say yes, goverment says no. That’s nor right people

  8. Lazaruis says:

    Did anyone think about arresting the con artists that are putting out the signs .?
    This matter should be handled by the proper authorities that this crime falls under .
    Whether pot is leagle to prescribe or not by certain doctors it is not the question here ,it is the fact that these people are running a scam .

  9. Just me says:

    Just so some people are aware, do your research about medical marijuana before assuming people are going to be high driving around. First of all alcohol is legal and is equally dangerous if not more. There are evidence-based research articles that have proven this information. But ask yourselves what is the difference between medical marijuana medical compared to recreational marijuana. The THC chemical that creates the “high” affect is removed solely for MEDICAL MARIJUANA to address the pain and chronic diseases people endure. Therefore, medical marijuana’s purpose is not to make people “high”. So do your research before you judge or knock something that you are not sure of and going off of personal and emotional assumptions. Only people with serious conditions are prescribed medical marijuana who are living with a disease. People are entitled to choose how they want to live their quality of life. Certain situations need to be considered before making assumptions.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Yes, the people have spoken very clearly that medical marijuana is to be legal, and Tallahassee and local politicians are using every obstruction trick in the book to stymie it.

    Why aren’t the pro-pot people out there protesting this government malfeasance?

    Because they’re sitting at home watching TV and eating potato chips.

  11. Sw says:

    @justme. Out West they certainly do not take the THC out of the Medical product…….

  12. Ryan says:

    This is what happens when we are focused on petty crime like this. We end up leaving real criminals on the streets.

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