Medical marijuana Archives - Florida Politics

Surterra Wellness chips in for Hurricane Michael recovery

Medical marijuana company Surterra Wellness has announced it is pitching in $50,000 toward Hurricane Michael recovery efforts in the Florida Panhandle.

The company said the contribution would be split up among several groups leading the charge in rebuilding the communities hardest hit by the Category 4 storm that slammed Northwest Florida a month ago. Among those benefitting are No Town Left Behind, the Florida Disaster Relief Fund, and Team Rubicon.

“No Town Left Behind is thrilled to announce our latest community partner, Surterra Wellness. This amazing company is dedicated to the health and vitality of first responders and fits along wonderfully with our mission of love and service,” said No Town Left Behind head Kimberly Goreham.

“We are beyond grateful for Surterra’s support, which will help us build our first Mobile Emergency Wellness Unit to care for our first responders in the field during disasters. Our teams of Chiropractic First Responders deploy into disaster zones and have needed a safe, comfortable place to treat firefighters, police, National Guard, and other first responders.

“With this amazing donation, Surterra Wellness will help bring natural relief to first responders working hard in disasters, for years to come,” she concluded.

No Town Left Behind will receive $20,000 of the funds, as will Team Rubicon, an organization that partners first responders with military veterans to help with disaster operations. The remaining $10,000 will go to the Florida Disaster Relief Fund.

Surterra Wellness operates 13 medical cannabis dispensaries in the Sunshine State and has also set up shop in Texas. The dispensaries, or “Wellness Centers,” have been described as “the Apple Store of cannabis” by St. Petersburg Sen. Jeff Brandes.

Surterra is one of many corporations to step up in the wake of Hurricane Michael — the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Panhandle region. Thus far, Gulf Power, the Walt Disney Company, the St. Joe Company Foundation, Trulieve and UnitedHealth Group have announced major contributions to aid disaster recovery programs.

Michael killed nearly four dozen people, including 35 Floridians, CoreLogic estimates Michael caused $2.5 to $4 billion in damage to residential and commercial properties in the Sunshine State.


Trulieve expanding national MMJ footprint with pair of acquisitions

The leading medical marijuana distributor in the Sunshine State is setting up shop in California and Massachusetts by way of a couple major acquisitions: Leef Industries and Life Essence.

Trulieve announced on Thursday that it had entered into agreements to acquire 100 percent of both companies. Before they are official, the purchases must receive regulatory approval.

“These transactions mark an important milestone in the growth of the Trulieve brand and our goal of becoming a leading multi-state operator,” Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers said. “Life Essence is establishing itself as a prominent seed-to-sale operator in Massachusetts, while Palm Springs-based Leef Industries is a leading cannabis retailer in one of the largest and most significant cannabis markets in the country.

“We look forward to establishing the Trulieve brand and leveraging our proven business model to deliver a truly unique and full-service experience to customers in these booming markets,” she concluded.

Life Essence is currently in the process of applying for a license to build and operate three medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts, as wells as a 126,000-square-foot cultivation and processing facility. Trulieve said the company, which sells cannabis both online and via brick-and-mortar stores, has shown “encouraging growth in the market.”

Leef Industries, headquartered in Palm Springs, Calif., is already licensed for medical and adult-use dispensaries. It has one of only a dozen fully-permitted licenses in The Golden State. Currently, Leef Industries has demonstrated encouraging growth in the market, offering in-store and online shopping, along with product home delivery.

The CEOs of both companies were enthusiastic in their support of the acquisition plan.

“This acquisition presents an extraordinary opportunity for two organizations to come together to provide a best-in-class offering to Massachusetts customers from a trusted brand name,” Life Essence CEO Richard Tannenbaum said. “There is clear alignment with Trulieve’s values and mission and we are delighted to become a part of the Trulieve family.”

Leef Industries head Kort Potter added that he was “excited about how Trulieve’s experience and brand savvy will accelerate the growth of the cannabis market in Palm Springs and beyond. We look forward to joining forces with an industry leader like Trulieve.”

Trulieve was one of the first medical marijuana providers to get rolling in the Sunshine State following Florida voters’ supermajority approval of  Amendment 2 two years ago. The vertically integrated “seed-to-sale” company currently operates 22 brick-and-mortar dispensaries spread across the entire state from the Panhandle to South Florida.

Trulieve has one of 14 “medical marijuana treatment center” (MMTC) licenses in the state, according to the Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use. Florida has a vertically-integrated market, meaning the same provider grows, processes and sells its own marijuana.

To become eligible for medical marijuana in Florida, patients must visit one of 1,820 physicians certified to determine whether a person’s condition qualifies them to be treated with the drug.


State challenged again on marijuana licenses

A Winter Springs company has filed the latest in a series of legal challenges arguing that the state is violating a 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana.

K N Y Medical Care, LLC, which does business as AKESOE, filed the case Monday in Leon County circuit court after unsuccessfully seeking state approval to enter the medical-marijuana industry.

The wide-ranging lawsuit targets actions by the Florida Department of Health, which regulates medical marijuana, and a 2017 law that was designed to carry out the voter-approved constitutional amendment.

As an example, the lawsuit contends that the 2017 law improperly placed caps on the number of medical-marijuana licenses.

“The defendants’ [state agencies and officials] failure to comply with their constitutional duties is … severely harming competition in the marketplace by delaying the entrance of new businesses, like AKESOE, into the market and thereby strengthening the improper monopoly hold that the current [licensed operators] have on the market,” the lawsuit said.

“In addition, the lack of competition in the marketplace is causing harm to patients through increased and inflated costs. Because there are so few [operators], there is no incentive for the current [operators] to offer competitive pricing on their products since there are no alternative sources for patients to purchase their medicine.”

The lawsuit follows other challenges to the way the state has carried out the 2016 amendment. For instance, Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson last month ruled that the 2017 law is unconstitutional and ordered the state to begin registering new medical-marijuana operators. Gov. Rick Scott’s administration has appealed that ruling.

No surprise here: Jeff Brandes trounces Lindsay Cross

Florida Senator Jeff Brandes will keep his Senate District 24 seat representing parts of St. Petersburg.

Brandes stomped his Democratic challenger, Lindsay Cross, 54 percent to 46 percent.

Cross was an underdog candidate in a difficult matchup against a well-known incumbent. She fought a hard battle right up until Election Day, but couldn’t bridge the gap created from her late entrance into the race and inability to keep up with Brandes’ campaign finance war chest.

Brandes is a popular politician in Florida respected across party lines. He gained respect from many Democrats after supporting legalizing medical cannabis and pushing for relaxed regulation over the industry once voters approved it.

He’s also made a name for himself pushing for more access to autonomous vehicle technology and other innovative solutions to modern day problems. Brandes is a bill-sponsoring machine in Tallahassee, proposing often bipartisan legislation ranging from allowing students to use computer coding as a language requirement to regulating “delivery robots” to serve as a sort of Uber of commerce.

Cross waged a strong grassroots campaign. She managed to stretch her limited funding by using creative marketing strategies. Rather than buying up expensive television ads (she did have some), Cross focused on alternative sources to reach voters like Hulu, Netflix and Pandora.

She also used social media as a strong outreach tool. In the final two weeks of her campaign, Cross began posting daily videos on Facebook highlighting issues in her race.

While not overtly negative, Cross attempted to beat Brandes on local issues. An environmental scientist by trade, one of Cross’s biggest appeals to voters was her commitment to sound environmental policy protecting drinking water, Florida’s myriad waterways and combating climate change.

She also hammered away at red tide, which is still plaguing Pinellas County beaches, driving visitors and residents away from the beaches and costing jobs. Cross blamed Brandes for supporting polluters, including the sugar industry.

She also opposed Brandes’ commitment to Florida’s network of charter schools, noting traditional public schools shouldn’t have to share funding with for-profit educators that only teach 10 percent of Florida’s school children.

But Brandes’ vast name recognition and expansive fundraising lead gave him a strong advantage.

Brandes raised more than $2 million compared to Cross’s less than $200,000.

Cross entered the race late after another candidate, Carrie Pilon, bowed out to tend to family medical matters. Her late start left early fundraising efforts sluggish and didn’t give her enough time to build funding momentum to even come close to matching Brandes.

The race isn’t necessarily an upset for Democrats. Unlike other Florida races, Cross was not expected to have a viable shot at upending Brandes’ reign in the Senate.

House seeks to defend medical marijuana law

The Florida House is seeking to intervene in a potentially far-reaching legal battle about the constitutionality of a 2017 law that set regulations for the state’s medical-marijuana industry.

House lawyers last week requested approval to help defend the law, which was designed to carry out a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana. A Leon County circuit judge this month sided with a Tampa-based firm that contends the 2017 law did not properly follow the constitutional amendment, in part because the law capped the number of medical-marijuana licenses that can be issued.

In a motion filed last week seeking to intervene in the case, House lawyers contended that the 2017 law was carefully crafted to carry out the voter-approved constitutional amendment and to comply with federal guidance about medical- marijuana issues. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, though it has been legalized for medicinal and recreational uses in various states.

“The House seeks to intervene here to defend the Legislature’s prudent effort at striking the necessary, delicate balance between implementation of the voter-adopted MMA policy (the medical marijuana constitutional amendment), on the one hand, and conflicting federal drug policy, on the other,” the motion to intervene said. “Indeed, the House has a direct interest in preserving, from judicial encroachment, the Legislature’s constitutional prerogative to address such a conflict and effectuate the voters’ will to the extent federal law will allow.”

The Tampa-based firm Florigrown, which had unsuccessfully sought a state license to get into the medical-marijuana industry, filed the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the 2017 law. Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson agreed that the law was unconstitutional and issued a temporary injunction Oct. 5 that required state health officials to begin registering Florigrown and other medical-marijuana firms to do business.

Gov. Rick Scott’s administration appealed, which had the effect of placing an automatic stay on Dodson’s ruling while the 1st District Court of Appeal considers the issues. Florigrown last week filed a motion in Dodson’s court to vacate the automatic stay, alleging that the Legislature had tried to create an “oligarchy” by limiting the number of licenses in what is expected to be a lucrative industry.

“This oligarchy has resulted in the creation of astronomic and artificial values in ‘licenses,’ contrary to the goal of making medical marijuana ‘safe and available’ and at the expense of qualifying patients and those so woefully in need of compassion, not exploitation by the select few,” Florigrown attorneys wrote.

Dodson has scheduled a Nov. 19 hearing to consider several issues, including the motion to vacate the automatic stay and the House’s request to intervene. While Dodson granted a temporary injunction, the underlying lawsuit also remains in his court.

The 2017 law ordered health officials to grant licenses to operators who were already up and running at the time in Florida or who were involved in litigation as of Jan. 1, 2017. The law also required a license for a black farmer who meets certain conditions and set aside a preference for applicants with certain ties to the citrus industry.

Dodson’s ruling found fault with caps on the number of licenses and issues such as the creation of a “vertical integration” system that requires marijuana operators to grow, process and sell medical marijuana — as opposed to businesses being licensed to play different roles in the industry. More than 71 percent of voters approved the medical-marijuana constitutional amendment in 2016.

In seeking to intervene in the case last week, House lawyers pointed to 2013 guidance from the Obama-era U.S. Justice Department that indicated state and local governments should have tight regulatory systems for medical marijuana. It also said uncertainty has been “amplified” by the Trump administration’s tougher stance on marijuana, which this year included rescinding the 2013 guidance.

“Only the Legislature — made up of the citizens’ representatives — has the constitutional authority to navigate the state through the tempestuous waters caused by the direct conflict between federal policy and a state policy enacted by citizen initiative,” the House lawyers wrote.

Medical marijuana provider Trulieve to open second West Palm Beach location

West Palm Beach is getting a second Trulieve location, the company has announced in a press release.

The grand opening for the area’s new marijuana dispensary will take place at 10 a.m. Tuesday at 1322 North Military Trail.

It’s the fifth dispensary operated by Trulieve in South Florida and the 21st overall. The company aims to have 30 stores open by February 2019, which is the maximum the law allows.

“With every dispensary, our main focus is creating an environment that is comfortable, safe and reliable, and we’re proud to continue cultivating those spaces in South Florida,” said Kim Rivers, the company’s CEO.

The businesses became above-board in Florida after Amendment 2 became effective in January 2017. Trulieve says it accounts for more than 2/3 of the state’ overall volume among the 140,000 medical marijuana patients with an active ID card.

To become eligible for the drug, patients must visit one of 1,820 physicians certified to determine whether a person’s condition qualifies them to be treated with medical marijuana.

“With thousands of patients being added to the registry each week, bringing them safe and effective care will continue to be our focus,” Rivers said.

“We want to ensure that those who need it the most, including those who have been unable to make it to a physical location before, are taken care of.”

Smoke if you got ’em: Jeff Brandes will refile smokable pot bill

State Senator Jeff Brandes will revive an amendment he filed during the 2019 Legislative Session that would expand medical marijuana access and allow patients to smoke their medicine, he said during a dispensary opening in St. Petersburg Thursday.

Brandes’ 2017 amendment would have shifted Florida’s medical marijuana law from its current “vertical” structure that requires one company to facilitate all stages of marijuana growth, cultivation and distribution to a “horizontal” integration that would allow separate companies and contractors to engage in any part of the process.

The idea was for people who, for example, specialize in horticulture, to focus solely on growing the product while leaving the retail side of the business to entrepreneurs who have expertise in selling and customer service.

Making that change would accomplish a number of things within the emerging medical marijuana industry. It could drive costs down for consumers by spreading financial risk among multiple entities and by streamlining the industry by using the most qualified professionals in each step of the process.

It could also expand access by leaving the industry able to operate in a more free market.

Brandes’ legislation would also codify into state law a patient’s right to consume their medicine in the way they deem most appropriate for their health.

“Some patients believe that smoking is the best way to find relief,” Brandes said. “That’s what we’re hearing from medical marijuana providers.”

“We think this is what voters thought they were voting for,” he continued referring to the 2014 Amendment 2 that legalized cannabis use for medical purposes.

The Legislature through its rule-making process banned smoking in its implementing language. That issue is working its way through Florida courts in a case originated with Florida attorney John Morgan who bankrolled the Amendment 2 campaign.

The state is fighting that lawsuit and another brief that contends banning smoking is contrary to the amendment Florida voters overwhelmingly approved.

Brandes said his legislation would also likely include language pertaining to edibles, which has not yet been hashed out in the rule-making process. But he said the language must be careful not to allow candy-like edibles that could be mistaken by children for sweet treats.

Brandes said he has no plans yet to address the recreational use of marijuana and hypothesized that will be a future battle for Morgan.

Brandes’ bill is contingent upon him earning re-election. The Libertarian-leaning Republican is facing Democratic challenger Lindsay Cross for his Senate District 14 seat in St. Pete.

Cross’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment on her policy priorities pertaining to the medical marijuana industry.

New Surterra Wellness in St. Pete is not your daddy’s head shop

The medical marijuana treatment provider Surterra Wellness opened its 12th Florida location in St. Petersburg Thursday. The Medical Marijuana Treatment Center is located at 2001 Fourth Street on one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares.

State Senator Jeff Brandes called the new dispensary “the Apple Store of cannabis.”

Unlike other treatment centers, Surterra designed all of their locations with an open floor plan where products can be viewed by anyone who enters the facility. Other companies, like CuraLeaf, allow approved patients and their designated caregivers to enter a separate room showcasing products.

The difference is, Surterra’s product displays are all empty, which keeps them in compliance with state laws governing the distribution of medical cannabis.

Like other dispensaries, the new Surterra facility is designed with serenity in mind. Far from the head shop imagery that once stigmatized marijuana, the building features warm colors and moderate decor.

Eucalyptus plants line the walls giving the room a peaceful aroma.

The centerpiece of the facility is a kitchen-like area where patients meet with care coordinators to discuss their needs and treatment options. The idea is to incorporate an at-home-like feeling for patients who are used to having important discussions in the home around the family kitchen or dining area.

Care coordinators will make patients and their loved ones a cup of coffee or tea to settle down into a relaxed environment where they feel open to discussing personal health decisions, according to Surterra Senior Manager of Government and Public Relations Kim Hawkes.

The company offers two lines of products. Florida’s Finest line are strain-based products most similar to what someone might buy off the street. There are five strains ranging in levels of THC, the chemical in marijuana that gives users a high, and CBD, the calming, non-high inducing chemical in cannabis.

The strains also have flavoring and can be consumed through vaporizing the marijuana flower, which gives patients more immediate access to relief without the harmful effects of smoking.

Surterra’s signature line is different than what most other dispensaries offer in that it balances the levels of THC and CBD proportionately so patients are receiving a consistent dose each time they use the product.

That line also includes five options – Calm, Serene, Soothe, Zen and Relief. The products range in levels from low-THC, high-CBD to low-CBD, high-THC. The lower THC products are used for patients suffering from things like epilepsy, PTSD or Parkinson’s Disease. Higher levels of THC are recommended for patients suffering from things like Cancer, ALS or Glaucoma.

Hawkes said the products are competitively priced to match what patients might pay on the black market.

“But with this patients have the piece of mind that it’s legal and that the products are tested,” Hawkes said. “That way they know there’s no yeast or mold, things that could irritate some ailments.”

Surterra also serves patients and friends and family members of potential patients. People who don’t have a patient access approval can still meet with wellness coordinators who can provide product information or even help to find a physician certified to recommend medical cannabis for treatment.

Under Florida law, patients must obtain a medical cannabis recommendation from doctors who have been certified through the state can.

“This is giving a lot of people access,” Brandes said. “And I’ve said all along, it’s about access and research.”

The new St. Pete location is Surterra’s third in the region. They also have facilities in Largo and Tampa. The company also offers next-day delivery service on its products.

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Retired Lee Sheriff Mike Scott backs recreational marijuana

Recently retired Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott made headlines speaking out in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreation use.

“There are serious drugs. We’re got people dying of heroin overdoses, the opioid crisis, across the country” Scott told Florida Politics. “I’d rather see these dollars and resources, in my opinion, better used to targeting those types of society’s ills as opposed to personal use of marijuana.”

Scott spoke on the topic at a Florida Gulf Coast University class on marijuana on Monday, as reported by The News-Press. Just that such a class exists, Scott says, shows the inevitability of legalization regardless of his individual views.

But Scott said over 30 years of law enforcement, he saw far more criminal incidents stemming from alcohol abuse than excessive marijuana use.

The comments won attention largely because law enforcement stands as perhaps the most vocal opponent of marijuana prohibition around.

The Florida Sheriff’s Association and the Florida Police Chief Association in 2016 both opposed a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, a ballot measure ultimately passed by 71 percent of voters. Florida’s sheriffs opposed a similar measure that failed in 2014.

But Scott even then opposed the sheriff’s association position.

On a personal note, Scott said, his mother-in-law is being treated for cancer with drugs the get entered through a port “like a garden hose” into her body.

“I’m not suggesting we’re doing anything wrong in that regard. I respect modern medicine,” he said. “I just don’t know why some folks continue to automatically and patently dismiss marijuana when I’m assuming some of their loved ones’ bodies are just convulsing from the strong toxic chemotherapy treatments that are usually said to be as bad or worse than the disease itself.”

If Scott’s mother-in-law lived in Colorado, she could at least try marijuana as a treatment. She lives in Tennessee so she cannot.

As far as recreational use, Scott noted marijuana remains a popular drug despite being illegal for years. He admits trying it as a youth, despite never smoking a cigarette or cigar.

Scott sees parallels between marijuana laws and alcohol prohibition, which allowed a black market to flourish while people consumed unregulated, home-brewed alcohol.

But while some of these arguments appeared in college papers for decades, one difference in the argument today is the example of other states and nations. Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use, and Scott doesn’t see a downside there. “People still want to go to Aspen and ski,” he said.

Now Canada just voted to legalize marijuana, the largest nation to do so.

There, Scott draws another comparison to prohibition, this an economic one, and wonders if the U.S. just missed a potential economic windfall.

“Why do you think so many of the whiskeys today are Canadian in nature?” he said. “Seagram’s and some of the leading whiskeys. They got ahead of the game of prohibition too.”

Now there’s a budding industry, and with huge growth potential if street use is any indication, and Canada just legitimized any industry growth and expansion while the United States federal government still bans the use of the drug even in states where voters legalized the substance.

Scott just retired as Lee County Sheriff halfway through his fourth term. But don’t expect him to hit the trail on the issue, or to run for office with this as a platform. “I don’t see myself campaigning. That’s one of the reasons I retired,” he said.

Regardless, voters will force government eventually to catch up, he said.

“The reality is, this is where our society is headed right now.”

Rick Scott seeks backing on medical marijuana appeal

With a 5 p.m. Friday deadline looming, Gov. Rick Scott has sought support from legislative leaders before appealing a Tallahassee judge’s order that critics say would create pandemonium in the state’s medical-marijuana industry if allowed to stand.

Responding to Scott’s request, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, incoming Speaker Jose Oliva and other Republican House leaders on Wednesday urged the Governor to seek “immediate review by a higher court” of an order by Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson, who ruled this month that a 2017 medical marijuana law was unconstitutional.

The impending court deadline — and the Scott administration’s failure to file an appeal thus far — has sparked a buzz within the state’s lucrative and highly restricted medical-cannabis industry, where licenses have sold for upwards of $60 million in recent months.

Dodson gave state health officials until Friday to begin registering new medical-marijuana operators after deciding a state law, passed during a special legislative session last year, failed to properly carry out a 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana.

Siding with Tampa-based Florigrown LLC, Dodson rebuked the Governor, the state Department of Health and the Republican-dominated Legislature for what he said was an unconstitutional law aimed at implementing the voter-approved ballot initiative.

Dodson’s harshly worded Oct. 5 order scolded state officials for treating the Constitution “like a recommendation” and gave the Department of Health two weeks to register Florigrown and to begin registering other medical-marijuana operators, or risk being found in contempt.

But, in Wednesday’s letter to Scott urging him to ask for a temporary injunction, House leaders wrote that Dodson’s order is “rife with substantive and procedural errors.”

Dodson’s order requiring health officials to move forward with new licenses “poses a serious risk of hardship to businesses that invest in the court’s temporary licensure scheme,” should his ruling be overturned, the House Republicans argued.

“The order also creates practical impossibilities and substantive dangers” by appearing to initiate “a different model regulatory system for which it has no rules, procedures, or infrastructure,” they wrote.

“Such an unpredictable regulatory environment is ripe for litigation, which will prevent, rather than ensure, access to this medical treatment,” the House Republicans said.

Industry insiders had expected Scott’s administration to appeal Dodson’s order as it has with nearly every other ruling it considered contrary to state policy, but politics may be playing a role in the delay.

Scott, a Republican who is finishing out the final months of his eight years as governor, is in a heated battle to unseat incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat who’s held his post for nearly two decades.

More than 71 percent of Florida voters approved the medical marijuana amendment in 2016, and polls have demonstrated widespread and bipartisan support for medical marijuana among all demographics throughout the state.

Numerous sources close to key legislators and the Scott administration told The News Service of Florida on Thursday that the Governor’s office requested that the House and Senate formally ask Scott to appeal the judge’s decision in the Florigrown case.

“Some people may call it ‘cover,’ but really what we have is we’re litigating an exceptionally complex and high-profile issue,” lawyer John Lockwood, who represents licensed medical- marijuana operators as well as those seeking entry into the state. “I don’t find it unusual that the administration may be looking to all the different stakeholders to seek feedback on the issue and the importance of the appeal.”

The Scott administration has faced harsh criticism, including from state legislators, for the roll-out of the medical-marijuana industry. Much of the blame has been placed on the Office of Medical Marijuana Use, a division of the health department.

Health officials have been accused of a wide range of lapses, such as protracted delays in licensing marijuana operators and months-long waiting periods for eligible patients to receive ID cards required for access to treatment.

Dodson found fault with parts of the 2017 law that, among other things, capped the number of marijuana licenses; created a “vertical integration” system that requires marijuana operators to grow, and process cannabis and distribute related products; and 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 Jan. 1, 2017. The law also required a license for a black farmer who meets certain conditions and set aside a preference for applicants with certain ties to the citrus industry.

A spokesman for the health department said Wednesday agency officials are reviewing the judge’s ruling.

When asked whether the Governor has sought support from key lawmakers to boost support for an appeal, Scott spokeswoman Mara Gambineri said the health department “has worked nonstop to implement the law the Legislature wrote.”

“They are taking the appropriate time to review the best path forward,” she said in an email.

Sen. Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican who has been instrumental in medical-marijuana legislation, called Dodson’s ruling “classic judicial overreach.”

“The irony of the trial court’s decision is that, if it were to stand, it would negatively affect the suffering patients that the court purports to protect. Patient access and safety would be undermined if the decision were to stand. For the sake of the welfare of Florida patients, I certainly encourage the DOH to appeal,” Bradley, an attorney, said in a text message.

Dodson’s decision striking down the 2017 law could also negate regulations associated with carrying out the constitutional amendment and result in what some predict would leave the industry in turmoil.

“The trial court’s order requires the issuance of an unlimited number of separate, independent licenses to any entity that either buys, grows, processes, transports, sells or administers medical marijuana. Presumably, one of these license holders could open an unlimited number of locations, anywhere in Florida, and perform any or all of those functions at those locations. If the trial court order stands, it will be the wild, wild West,” Bradley told the News Service.

Medical marijuana lobbyists, lawyers, operators and others spent Tuesday and Wednesday calling and texting each other and Scott’s representatives as the clock wound down toward Friday’s deadline.

But some of the Governor’s harshest critics questioned whether the crisis was genuine.

“This whole thing just frankly seems so silly. The notion that the Governor would treat this lawsuit differently than he has every other one on appeal is just ludicrous,” said Ben Pollara, the campaign manager of the political committee behind the 2016 constitutional amendment.

“It looks like he is just either seeking some political cover for a decision he’s already made, because it’s the same decision he’s made in every other circumstance in the past. Or he’s setting up a shake down of the MMTCs (medical marijuana treatment centers) for his super PAC. Or it’s both,” Pollara told the News Service.

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