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The Enormously Consequential Florigrown Case Trudges On
Almost four years after Florida voters approved medical marijuana for the state, the constitutionality of the system set up to license Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs) is still an open question. Florigrown, the company that sued the state Department of Health after being denied an MMTC license, started this legal attack on the legislature’s 2017 law implementing the medical marijuana Amendment 2. The plaintiff has used several arguments to protest the state’s system governing medical marijuana; among other things, it has challenged the state’s authority to grant licenses to only a handful of companies and its preference to companies that are vertically integrated.
To understand where this case stands today, it’s necessary to provide a brief history of this case through the state court system:
- A trial judge in Leon County (home to Tallahassee) agreed with Florigrown in October 2018 on both arguments we covered above.
- The state Department of Health appealed the trial judge’s ruling. The appellate court, however, upheld the Leon County judge’s ruling in July 2019.
It’s possible that Floridians would already have a ruling from the state Supreme Court in the Florigrown case were it not for COVID-19. However, the high court heard from the parties in May and, in July 2020, requested for more oral arguments (a second round) in the case. Specifically, the court wanted the parties to address the issue on whether the system setup was created by a “special law” that favors particular companies.
On its surface, this (admittedly unusual) request from the Florida Supreme Court appears to give credence to Florigrown’s argument that companies that were not already vertically integrated were denied licenses simply due to this fact. Another consideration that dovetails with this request is the fact that few licenses were going to be granted in the first place, which, according to Florigrown’s arguments, creates monopolies in the industry.
What If Florigrown Wins?
It’s not wise to make predictions about how a particular case will be decided. In the case of Florigrown, it is worthwhile to consider how a ruling in its favor would change the state’s medical marijuana laws.
The suspected outcome (should Florigrown prevail) is that licenses will open up the MMTC market to many more individuals and companies by allowing companies to focus on growing, selling, processing, and distributing instead of forcing companies to take on all aspects of the process.
Regardless of how the state’s Supreme Court rules, the Patient Registry continues to grow and the number of available licenses will inevitably grow. The extent and pace at which this occurs is what is at stake.
Whether the licenses currently available will remain vertically integrated, become horizontally categorized, or some variation of the two, a decision in Florigrown should reveal some light at the end of the tunnel for those eager to apply for MMTC licensing in Florida. In the meantime, any companies planning to pursue licensing, whether currently in the industry or not, should make sure they seek the advice and collaboration of an attorney having firsthand experience with the MMTC application process. Our firm is one of the leaders in this market, and we would be more than happy to see how we can help you and your business. Call us today at 305-358-8003 to discuss your options with our team.
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