Florida’s medical marijuana regulations and laws have been the subject of repeated litigation ever since Amendment Two was passed by voters in 2016. A recent Florida Court Opinion has ruled in favor of Plaintiffs seeking to expand Florida’s restrictive vertical license law (which requires the license holder to grow, distribute and sell medical marijuana).
Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson ruled that the cap on the number of “medical marijuana treatment centers, (MMTC)” ran afoul of Amendment Two which had no limitation on MMTCs in the Amendment text.
Judge Dodson ruled that the restrictions set forth in the regulations and laws implementing Amendment Two
Directly undermine the clear intent of the amendment, which by its language seeks to prevent arbitrary restriction on the number of MMTCs authorized to conduct business in the state. The amendment mandates the availability and safe use of medical marijuana by qualifying patients.
Additionally, Judge Dodson found that the vertical license model implemented by Florida is unconstitutional because it requires license holders to cultivate, process, and dispense medical marijuana as opposed to providing licenses to those that just want to engage in one part of the medical marijuana process. Specifically, Judge Dodson found that the language of Amendment Two utilized an “or” when defining MMTCs and Florida’s legislature used an “and” when writing the law defining MMTCs.
Finally, Judge Dodson ruled that limited number of licenses provided by Florida law improperly restricted who could get licenses. The law ordered health officials to grant licenses to operators who were already up and running in Florida or who were involved in litigation as of January 1, 2017. Florida’s medical marijuana law also required that a black farmer receive a license and set aside license preferences for the citrus industry (both of these carve outs have been subject to other litigation as well). Judge Dodson found these restriction amounted to an impermissible “special law”.
Notwithstanding, the dramatic Court Opinion, Judge Dodson declined the Plaintiffs’ request for a temporary injunction.
Dori K. Stibolt is a West Palm Beach, Florida based partner with Fox Rothschild LLP. She focuses her practice on litigation and labor and employment issues and has taken a special interest in the cannabis business. You can contact Dori at 561-804-4417 or email@example.com.