Appeal Court Kicks Against Florida’s Restrictive Rules on Medical Marijuana

Florida’s first district appeal court in Tallahassee, presided over by Judges Scott Makar, James Wolf, and T. Kent Wetherell have ruled Florida’s restrictive rules on medical marijuana to be unconstitutional, and in contradiction to the second amendment which is a federal law that stipulates that medical marijuana may be sold and consumed by the American populace as a completely legal drug.

The court proceedings had arisen as a result of a lawsuit between the State Department of Health and a Florida-based medical marijuana company known as Florigrown. Florigrown had approached the Florida State Department of Health for a license to legally produce and sell medical marijuana in Florida in 2018, but the department of health had turned down an approval. Enraged and feeling marginalized at being denied the right to carry out a perfectly legal business operation, Florigrown had sued the State Department of Health to court in 2018.

The Leon County Circuit Court, presided over by Judge Charles Dodson had ruled in favor of Florigrown, and the judge had even instructed the state department of health to issue Florigrown a license to legally produce and sell medical marijuana. The judge had gone further to order the state department of health to allow other denied companies the opportunity to engage in the medical marijuana business too.

The state department of health had however gone ahead to appeal the case almost immediately, leading to the suspension of Florigrown’s approval. At the appeal court again, the judges have ruled that the state department of health has no right to go against a federal law that states that medical marijuana is perfectly legal.

In 2017, 71% of residents in Florida voted for the legalization of medical marijuana, in line with a constitutional amendment that was majorly financed by an attorney from Orlando; John Morgan. The amendment, validating the right of Americans to establish medical marijuana companies, states that Medical Marijuana companies are “entities that engage in the acquisition, cultivation, possession, processing, transfer, transportation, sale, distribution, dispensation, and administration of marijuana or products that contain marijuana, associated products or educational materials.”

The Amendment does not specify, or make it obligatory in any sense that medical marijuana must be produced and distributed using a vertically integrated model in which the medical marijuana company single-handedly handles all aspects of production and distribution without outsourcing any section of the production process.

The Amendment also didn’t mention that states could decide that a maximum number of medical marijuana companies could exist within their territories.

Therefore, the state of Florida came in direct contravention with this amendment in 2017 when Governor Rick Scott signed a bill into law that made it compulsory for medical marijuana companies to possess the facilities to single-handedly undertake the processes of cultivation, processing, transportation, and dispensing of medical marijuana without any form of outsourcing before a practicing license could be issued by the state.

The current administration, and a lot of other critics of the restrictive medical marijuana law have called the law unconstitutional.

The current administration in Florida has vowed to take steps to address the inconsistencies caused by the law. According to Florida State Senator, Jeff Brandes, the law must be eradicated as vertical integration clearly is not what is best for the patients.