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Key medical marijuana issue goes to Supreme Court

The 1st DCA decision prompted lawyers for DeSantis to file an appeal with the Supreme Court.

Days after a split appeals court refused to revisit a decision that could revolutionize the way medical marijuana operators do business in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has asked the state Supreme Court to take up the case.

The 1st District Court of Appeal turned down a state request for the full appellate court to hear the case, a request known as seeking an “en banc” hearing.

Judge Scott Makar wrote in a concurring opinion that “en banc review is unwarranted and would serve only to delay the inevitable, which is to allow for our Supreme Court to weigh in and definitively pass upon the matter.”

The 2-1 decision prompted lawyers for DeSantis to file an appeal with the Supreme Court on Friday.

The state asked for the en banc hearing after a three-judge panel in July sided with Tampa-based firm Florigrown in finding that Florida’s law requiring pot operators to grow, process and distribute cannabis and related products created an “oligopoly” and runs afoul of a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana.

The law, passed during a Special Legislative Session in 2017, was intended to carry out the amendment, approved by more than 71 percent of voters in 2016.

Critics say the 2017 law shuts out firms from the industry because it requires licensees to perform all aspects of the business — rather than allowing companies to focus only on individual pieces.

The amendment defines a “medical marijuana treatment center” as “an entity that acquires, cultivates, possesses, processes … transfers, transports, sells, distributes, dispenses, or administers marijuana, products containing marijuana, related supplies, or educational materials” to qualifying patients or their caregivers.

Meanwhile, the state law uses different wording, saying, in part, “a licensed medical marijuana treatment center shall cultivate, process, transport and dispense marijuana for medical use.”

The three-judge panel in July found that the law requires firms to “conform to a more restricted definition” than is provided in the amendment.

The July 9 decision sent shockwaves through the state’s medical marijuana industry, in which licenses are regularly selling for upward of $50 million, but it had no immediate effect.


Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

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.



  1. Leonard Marshall

    September 3, 2019 at 9:26 am

    Just legalize it already. So sick of all the dancing around how safe it is. Sure, we’ve been banned from even studying it, but anyone who can read can see that there’s no problem with leaving it completely alone. Clue: not even the Black Market can make cannabis dangerous!

  2. Jim

    September 3, 2019 at 10:04 am

    How many more sick people will suffer while the Florida Supreme Court wastes time on a harmless weed? Florida voters spoke overwhelmingly on this issue in November 2016 and those sick people still wait, and suffer. It’s a plant, you idiots.

  3. Lisa

    September 3, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    Whatever happened to “free markets” and letting a market pick winners and losers? Are they not Republican type ideas? Personally, if I needed it for medicine, I’d want choices- who grew it, where and how. Who manufactures it. Who sells it. Oh, and one of those choices would include being able to grow and make my own medicine.

  4. NP

    September 4, 2019 at 11:41 am

    1) Lt. Gov says the Governor is not interested in continuing this lawsuit.

    2) Gov Desantis says the cartel must be ended and if the legislature doesn’t do it, he will settle the lawsuit.

    3) cartel immediately makes political contributions to Desantis.

    4) Legislature fails to act and Desantis does not drop the appeal.

    5) appeals court declares law unconstitutional

    6) cartel makes financial contributions to Desantis and he requests en banc hearing.

    7) Desantis says ‘a lot of people (the cartel) relied on the system.’

    8) Desantis appeals to Supreme Court.

    How is this not pay-to-play? Why isn’t this the story?

    • Pete

      September 5, 2019 at 12:34 am

      It doesn’t matter Desantis will lose but from his perspective, he is doing this and no one should be surprised. He doesn’t want to deal with it but the whole process of the government dealing with weed is such a joke. I would rather see it this way as lame as it is compared to if you gave Democrats total control over legalizing and regulating it, trust me like California the corruption with applications for permit/license is a major problem with the lowest level official

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