Medical marijuana provider Trulieve sues state over store limits

trulieve

Trulieve, a medical marijuana provider, on Monday filed a “constitutional challenge” against the state’s Department of Health over how many retail stores it can open, and where, under current law.

An attorney for the company, which is seeking “non-monetary declaratory or injunctive relief,” provided a copy of the complaint by George Hackney Inc., the Gadsden County nursery that does business as Trulieve.

The lawsuit follows a similar administrative action last year that sought to lock down its “dispensary rights.”

It wanted “to clarify that the allowed number and location of (medical marijuana) dispensaries (under Florida law) does not setoff or divest dispensary rights vested under its dispensing organization license,” that filing said.

Trulieve now is asking a court to declare its rights under law to open new stores. The case for now has been assigned to Tallahassee-based Circuit Judge John Cooper.

Its complaint, filed Monday in Leon Circuit Civil court, says its original application made clear “its plan to locate dispensaries throughout the state. Upon comparative review, DOH granted Trulieve’s application without any limitation on the number of dispensaries.”

State laws passed in 2014 and 2016 “imposed (no) limit on the number of dispensaries that dispensing organizations could establish … The right to compete statewide without restriction was an essential part of Trulieve’s business plan and a significant incentive to enter this novel business.”

The department “did not express any objection to this plan,” the complaint says, and the constitutional amendment on medical marijuana passed by voters in 2016 “does not limit the number of dispensaries for licensed suppliers.”

But an implementing bill, passed last year, sets a limit on dispensaries statewide and “further subdivides this statewide quota into five regional quotas based on population … This cap on dispensaries expires April 1, 2020.”

The sole purpose of this statutory cap on the number and location of dispensaries is to temporarily suppress competition among MMTCs,” or medical marijuana treatment centers.

The department “has indicated its intent to limit Trulieve to 25 total dispensaries, apportioned by region, under the 2017 statute. (This) will impair Trulieve’s vested rights as a dispensing organization, and diminish the value of Trulieve’s licensed business,” the complaint says.

The department does not comment on pending litigation, but Christian Bax, head of the department’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use, has told lawmakers that a litany of lawsuits continues to jam up Florida’s medical marijuana licensure process.

His office’s latest weekly email newsletter, which comes out every Friday, showed at least eight pending lawsuits, not counting administrative actions.

Medical marijuana implementation “continues to be frequently litigated,” the newsletter says.

“While some of these lawsuits have little impact on our progress, others – particularly those regarding the constitutionality of the law we are tasked with executing – have significant impact on DOH’s ability to implement certain requirements” under law.

Updated Tuesday — Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers said in a statement: “This lawsuit is first and foremost about patient access. The current arbitrary caps are not just an after-the-fact restriction that was added after we were awarded a license, but they limit our ability to provide safe medical marijuana efficiently to our customers throughout Florida.

“The restrictions force us to use extremely expensive long-distance delivery and build dispensaries on a model based on geographic distribution, not where patients live. This not only restricts access to patients in need, but forces higher prices. We believe these arbitrary and highly restrictive caps violate Florida’s constitutional guarantee of safe medical cannabis to patients in need.”

Updated Monday, April 9 — Circuit Judge John Cooper has recused himself from the case, but did not give an explanation. Chief Judge Jonathan Sjostrom had not yet reassigned the suit as of Monday afternoon.

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected]


16 comments

  • Tara

    April 2, 2018 at 8:55 pm

    They can’t keep product in the dispensary they have open now why would they open more.

    • Mihat

      April 4, 2018 at 11:43 am

      That is the point of the lawsuit.
      The restrictions are the reason.
      They try to inhibit small business from growing.
      More restrictions mean less supply.
      Do your homework.

    • Donna

      April 9, 2018 at 8:13 am

      Because there are no dispensary in Broward County

  • Garrett Polley

    April 2, 2018 at 11:46 pm

    Our Orlando Marijuana Clinic and Doctor agree with Trulieve and back John Morgan! Patients deserve a choice for whole plant medicine. Not manufactured products!

    • Theresa

      April 6, 2018 at 4:30 am

      I agree that we have the right to use the whole flower. At least that is what I voted for. IMO Trulieve does not have the best product in Florida. I do like 3 or 4 of their vapes. One of the biggest problems is the cost!! Another problem is that every time I have gone into a trulieve dispensary, they were not very knowledgeable about which of their products work for for what! They also have large tip jars (the one in Tampa & Lady Lake do). Why should we be pressured to tip for our prescription medications! This is medicine we are talking about!! I urge everyone to try all of the different strains from all of the companies. Leafly.com is a great place to learn about the strains. You can also download their app. Praying everyone finds relief!!

      • L

        April 16, 2018 at 1:21 am

        You are right about the tip jars in the dispensary. That’s pretty bad business from a prescription facility. Seems as if the “old ways” haven’t rubbed off yet. Walgreens doesn’t expect tips for prescriptions and neither should Trulieve.

        Personally, I have tried 4 dispensaries and I am not completely happy with any of them. Price, taste, effectiveness, bad cartridges (and, yes, Surterra’s bad pens) have left me feeling pretty “meh” about my medically prescribed marijuana. I have jumped through the hoops, paid the quacks to prescribe what I have used my entire adult life, and paid way too much money for bad pens and cartridges only to be let down again and again. I find it ridiculous to participate in the medical marijuana charade, although I do use for “medical” and recreational purposes.

        The dispensaries have,… dare the pun…, “rushed in” and done a shit job. Trulieve can’t keep it in stock. Who does this? Where is your management team, inventory clerks, quality control? The last time I visited a Trulieve dispensary was my last time. They had nothing in stock. I was shocked. Good job Bradenton! Not to mention the changing taste of their oils. This company is a train wreck.

        I won’t go on to list my complaints about the others (and the list is long); but the center can’t hold in Florida’s current medical marijuana climate. As a patient, paying full whack for “medication,” I am so disgusted by our dispensaries, their poorly manufactured cartridges and pens, the quality of the formulas, and even the taste of some of the oils that I have pondered ordering online from some of the new dispensaries who claim to ship (legally?) anywhere. In pondering this, I have googled the legalities of ordering medical marijuana outside of Florida, and I cannot find the exact rules or laws regarding receipt of an online medical marijuana prescription, delivered to my home from an out of state dispensary. Why is everything so vague regarding ordering prescriptions out of state? I don’t think Florida should hold card-carrying patients hostage to inept manufacturers and dispensaries in Florida. We should have the right to buy our prescriptions out of state as we do others.

        As the laws change and America grows greener, our current dispensaries are going to have a whole lot of trouble competing at their current pace. Online ordering will begin to sweep the nation soon. Maybe the execs already know this and have “chosen” to let our brick and mortar dispensaries die a slow death. I mean, really?? With the money they are making, they should be hiring some top managing performers to lead their companies forward. The train has already left the station.

  • Pat

    April 3, 2018 at 7:51 am

    Trulieve does not need more stores. Florida needs More growers

    • Theresa

      April 6, 2018 at 4:35 am

      I agree!! There needs to be more competition so it won’t be so expensive!! I know a lot of people that are going have problems being able to afford their medications. I just started 2 months ago and I have already spent well over a thousand dollars. A lot of the problem isnthe trial and error trying to find what works for you and your condition.

  • me roberson

    April 3, 2018 at 9:09 pm

    if there are more stores then there will be more growers accepted it’s all a process

    • JIMT

      April 4, 2018 at 1:36 pm

      When will Florida allow smokeable marijuana as part of the medical marijuana law? Does not seem right that this is not allowed, despite public approval for medicinal use…

  • Diane Gracely

    April 5, 2018 at 7:20 am

    I have a group of over 3,000 Florida patients on Facebook. The biggest complaint from all patients is that Trulieve keeps running out of stock and they cannot get the medicine they NEED. It takes weeks for them to restock. Patient demand is NOT being met. It’s not Trulieve’s fault, it’s the STATES LIMITS on our growers. The state needs to increase these limits tremendously and also allow Trulieve more locations. Supply is NOT meeting demand in Florida. Trulieve is most patients favorite dispensary. The state needs to make changes so Trulieve can keep stock for all of us patients and open more stores.

  • Norm LeSir

    April 6, 2018 at 9:43 am

    Why would Trulieve want more locations????
    They can’t supply the patients needs!!!
    Always out of stock(state wide)
    they always try to sell you UNWANTED products (to reduce their scraps)
    We need more Companies with products,
    Not more dispensaries with NO products

    • Mihat

      April 6, 2018 at 10:33 pm

      Read the laws and see how a bunch of politicians made laws to inhibit growth.
      Which is why there is no product to sell.
      If you open your eyes and look at the big picture maybe you will see.

Comments are closed.


#FlaPol

Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Wes Wolfe, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704




Sign up for Sunburn


Categories