Despite a Tallahassee judge declaring significant parts of the state’s medical marijuana law unconstitutional, the law’s chief architect on Tuesday said he was confident the law would be affirmed.
“The trial court ruling injected unnecessary uncertainty into the emerging medical marijuana marketplace,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican. “I’m confident that our appellate courts will uphold (its) constitutionality.”
In 2017, lawmakers passed and Gov. Rick Scott signed the measure (SB 8-A) into law to implement the state’s medicinal cannabis constitutional amendment, passed by 71 percent of voters the year before. Bradley was the main sponsor.
In recent months, however, judges have been chipping away at the law, beginning with Circuit Judge Karen Gievers‘ ruling that Tampa strip club mogul Joe Redner can grow and make juice of his own marijuana.
In another case, Gievers struck down the law’s ban on smoking medical marijuana, saying that conflicted with the amendment. Both of those rulings are being appealed by the state.
Last week, Circuit Judge Charles W. Dodson in a preliminary order struck down the requirement that Florida have a vertically-integrated market, meaning the same provider grows, processes and sells its own marijuana.
Dodson also ruled against the limit on the number of providers that can be licensed, and said creating special licenses – including giving a preference to former citrus processors – was out of bounds.
Also on Monday, the company that challenged the state’s licensing scheme sent a letter (posted below) to state regulators asking that it be immediately “registered” as a medical marijuana treatment center, or provider. It’s partly owned by Redner.
“I am reaching out on behalf of Florigrown to see if we can reach a quick resolution,” wrote company president Adam Elend. “We sympathize with the difficult position the Legislature has placed the department in, but, as Judge Dodson stated, ‘… the legislative guidance was … inconsistent with the amendment.’ ”
Bradley disagreed: “Medical marijuana is being grown, processed and sold in a safe, orderly fashion today in Florida,” he told Florida Politics.
“As more companies come on line, and the Department (of Health) fully implements an integrated seed-to-sale system and a delay-free ID card system, the system will develop into a model for other states,” he added.
The department regulates the drug through its Office of Medical Marijuana Use.
“Floridians rightfully expect to have access to safe, quality medical marijuana, and also expect that the product be regulated properly like any other medicine,” Bradley said. “SB 8-A accomplishes both goals.”