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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.

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“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.

The News Service of Florida provides journalists, lobbyists, government officials and other civic leaders with comprehensive, objective information about the activities of state government year-round.

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