More information comes to light in Florida’s highest court regarding medical cannabis licensing case


Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Is Florida’s medical cannabis licensing scheme unconstitutional? This is exactly what is being pondered over by the Florida Supreme Court, which recently listened to a number of oral arguments pertaining to the system’s level of accessibility for patients.

Depending on the outcome of the case, there’s a chance that standalone business opportunities could transpire from Florida’s vertically integrated medical cannabis market. However, the justice department appears to agree that Florida has achieved compliance with its constitutional obligations by introducing a limited-license, vertically integrated structure.

Mixed opinions emerge regarding licensing process for Florida’s medical cannabis market

Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson stands to be corrected if the Florida Supreme Court succeeds in sustaining the constitutionality of the state’s medical cannabis system. Dodson protested against the licensing limits enforced by a 2017 law which, he says, breached the terms laid out in a constitutional amendment that was approved by Florida voters back in 2016.

Dodson’s ruling was appealed by the state, but not before he encouraged regulators to stop holding up the licensing process for Florida’s medical cannabis market and, instead, begin distributing new medical cannabis licenses.

A system whereby an “expanding bucket of licenses” were on offer had been introduced by regulators and lawmakers. This is according to Florida Department of Health attorney, Joe Jacquot. The lawyer says that Florida’s constitutional amendment was fulfilled due to licensing options, which satisfied the ever-growing availability of medical cannabis. This argument was countered by Katherine Giddings, who serves as an attorney for Florigrown a cannabis firm that failed to obtain a license.

“This is anything but a free market; it’s created a monopoly of a few entities. The whole thing smells bad,” answered back Giddings. Tampa-based cannabis company Florigrown filed a lawsuit against the state in 2018 regarding the licensing process for Florida’s medical cannabis market.

Arguments for and against the licensing process for Florida’s medical cannabis market

At the beginning of October, the state made a number of arguments to prove that the licensing process for Florida’s medical cannabis market is functioning as it should be. One of those fighting statements centered around medical cannabis licensees having to meet the same set of regulatory criteria.

Furthermore, the state affirmed that 22 vertically integrated licenses have already been issued, with another 11 available for lucky applicants. Florigrown is invited to apply for an available license, so long as the company has abided by the necessary requirements for vertical integration.

Florigrown’s attorney Giddings continuously bit back at these claims from the state. She said that license holders were mainly privileged individuals and, in most cases, undeserving the vast majority have either won licenses by means of litigation or have sold them on for a profit. This means that the market is still starved of operators.

A deadline for the ruling regarding the licensing process for Florida’s medical cannabis market has not yet been set by the Florida high court.