A Florida medical marijuana case brought by Florigrown will go to the Florida Supreme Court after a split appeals court refused to grant the state’s request for a new hearing in the licensing dispute.
The 1st District Court of Appeals asked the Florida Supreme Court Aug. 27 to decide whether the state’s vertical integration requirement is unconstitutional under a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical cannabis in the state, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Five judges on the appeals court recused themselves from deciding whether the case should get a hearing by the full court, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported, although the judges did not explain the reasons behind their recusals.
In July, an appellate court sided with Florigrown, one of Florida’s medical cannabis businesses, after the Tampa-based company sued the state upon being denied a business license. Florigrown’s lawsuit underscores the tension between a 2016 voter-approved medical cannabis legalization measure and state legislators’ attempts to implement that measure.
Florida lawmakers have instituted a vertical integration requirement and capped the total number of medical cannabis business licenses in the state. However, crucial language in the ballot initiative approved by voters includes the word “or,” as in a medical cannabis business in the state—called a “Medical Marijuana Treatment Center” (MMTC)—“acquires, cultivates, possesses, processes (including development of related products such as food, tinctures, aerosols, oils, or ointments), transfers, transports, sells, distributes, dispenses, or administers marijuana, products containing marijuana, related supplies, or educational materials to qualifying patients or their caregivers and is registered by the Department.”
Last year, a Leon County Circuit Court judge supported Florigrown’s argument and issued a temporary injunction, ordering the state to begin issuing more medical cannabis business licenses, and that’s when the state appealed.
After the five judges recused themselves Tuesday, the remaining judges split 4-4, the regulatory landscape in the state thus remains the same for the time being, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported. Now, all eyes are on the Supreme Court to have the final say in the issue.