Florigrown loses first round in marijuana battle

Ala. Senate passes Medical Marijuana bill
Ala. Senate passes Medical Marijuana bill
Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 6:38 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Florida Supreme Court turned down a challenge to the state’s medical marijuana law, signaling it did not think a company owned by Tampa entrepreneur Joe Redner, who has so far been denied a license, would prevail.

Now, the arguments over vertical integration will go back to the original trial court.

The constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana lists all of the things a medical marijuana treatment center must do, but the use of the word “or” instead of “and” opened the door to argue companies could do some, but not all of the the duties listed.

“We’re disappointed with the ruling,” said Florigrown attorney Jonathan Robbins.

After a three-year legal battle, Florida’s high court overturned a stay that froze the current law in place, affirming the state’s seed-to-sale law.

“And the legislature effectively required full vertical integration that was something not required by the constitutional amendment,” said Robbins.

The court went on to say lawmakers did a good job in the nine months they were given by the amendment to get up and running.

“It really validates what the Legislature, the law they passed in 2017, and what the Department of Health has been trying to do ever since,” said Jeff Sharkey with the Medical Marijuana Business Association.

Because of the legal uncertainty, the state has delayed issuing new licenses that are required by the law because of a growing patient base.

In a statement, the Department of Health told CNS that it is pleased with the ruling and it’s actively being reviewed.

As many as 15 new licenses could now be issued.

“When they can issue those you’ll see better access for patients, more affordability and the industry will mature in Florida,” said Sharkey.

With the court already signaling it doubts Florigrown can win on the merits, the company must decide if it wants to go back to the trial court and fight for several more years.

Attorneys for Florigrown said they and client Joe Redner will decide if the case should start over in the lower court in the near future.

If new licenses are issued, one would have to go to a black farmer and two others to citrus growers or processors.

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