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Florida Supreme Court deals blow to Tampa-based business in medical marijuana ruling

The decision was nearly unanimous.
Credit: goodmanphoto - stock.adobe.com

Florida's Supreme Court on Thursday ruled it wouldn't dump lawmakers' medical marijuana restrictions, in a blow to a Tampa Bay area business that sued the state more than three years ago.

Back in 2017, state lawmakers created rules that said businesses wanting to join the growing medical marijuana industry needed to be "vertically integrated." In other words, they must grow, process, move and distribute their own pot.

Tampa-based Florigrown sued the state after being denied a license to be a marijuana treatment center. It argued the regulations cooked up in Tallahassee were at odds with a 2016 voter-approved medical marijuana ballot measure.

An appellate court eventually decided Florida's approach to regulating marijuana was unconstitutional, which might have allowed smaller companies to get into the market. That's because the ruling said the state's vertically-integrated system conflicted with the voter-backed amendment and that existing caps on the number of medical marijuana treatment centers allowed to operate in the state was unreasonable. At the time, Florigrown's CEO described the lower court's ruling as "a big victory for us."

That changed Thursday with the Supreme Court's 54-page ruling, which did not find a disconnect between state law and Amendment 2 from 2016. The court ruled overwhelmingly that Florigrown was not likely to succeed in its constitutional challenge and denied the company's request for a temporary injunction.

"We quash the First District’s decision and remand this case to the First District with instructions to further remand to the trial court for vacation of the temporary injunction," the Supreme Court's majority decision said.

Justice Alan Lawson largely agreed with the other six justices but wrote a partial dissent largely related to special privileges for private medical corporations.

Click here to read the Supreme Court's ruling.

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