Florida Defends Medical Marijuana Law in High-Stakes State Supreme Court Battle
Thursday, August 6, 2020
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On May 6, 2020, in a highly-important case for the medical marijuana industry in Florida, the state defended its regulatory framework before the Florida supreme court. The case focuses on whether Florida has properly carried out a 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana for patients. The Florida Department of Health (DOH) argues that there is no conflict between the voter-approved medical marijuana amendment and the state's caps on providers.
Ongoing Battle in the Courts.
The case primarily centers on a requirement that the Legislature put in the 2017 law about marijuana firms allowed to operate in the state. That requirement says the companies must be able to handle all aspects of the business, including growing, processing, and distributing products. The Florida DOH appealed to the Supreme Court after lower courts sided with Florigrown, a Tampa-based company. For several years, Florigrown has unsuccessfully sought approval to become a licensed medical-marijuana operator in Florida. Click here to read my prior blog and learn more.
Arguing Over Semantics.
The key part of the case focuses on the text of the amendment in determining whether the vertical integration model is proper. The language in question is the difference in the words “or” and “and” in the amendment's definition of a medical marijuana treatment center (MMTC).
The constitutional amendment defined MMTCs as “an entity that acquires, cultivates, possesses, processes … transfers, transports, sells, distributes, dispenses, or administers marijuana, products containing marijuana, related supplies, or educational materials.”
Meanwhile, the implementing 2017 law defines MMTCs as an entity that "cultivates, processes, transports and dispenses marijuana for medical use."
Florigrown argues that the switch from "or" to "and" creates wording that establishes the vertically integrated system, as it establishes a need to perform all aspects of the business.
In its defense, the Florida DOH argued that the 2017 law does not directly conflict with a “proper, textual interpretation” of the constitutional amendment and directly calls for regulations on the availability and safe use of the substance.
To read more on this ongoing case and Florigrown's lawsuit, click here to read my prior blog.
Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical and Recreational Marijuana Concerns.
The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists, and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.
To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
Saunders, Jim. "Case challenging Florida law on medical marijuana licenses may hinge on ‘and’ vs. ‘or’." Miami Herald. (May 6, 2020).
Bolado, Carolina. "Fla. Defends Medical Pot Regulations Before State High Court." Law360. (May 6, 2020). Web.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
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