Florida seeks court review of medical marijuana licensing

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A court challenge by Florida’s Republican governor likely will further delay the state’s lucrative medical cannabis market from opening up to new businesses.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration asked for a review of a recent appellate panel ruling that the state’s MMJ laws requiring vertical integration and imposing dispensary caps are unconstitutional.

Here’s the latest, according to News Service of Florida:

  • The state said the recent appellate panel decision creates “confusion and uncertainty” and should be heard and reviewed by the full appellate court.
  • If that request isn’t granted, then the state wants the Florida Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue.

Lower courts and the appellate panel already ruled that Florida’s restrictive MMJ laws run counter to the intent of the 2016 voter-initiated constitutional amendment that legalized medical cannabis.

The industry wants a more predictable climate for doing business, as well as additional opportunities.

“The two-year-old lawsuits questioning the constitutionality of Florida’s medical marijuana law have created tremendous uncertainty for licensees, patients and regulators,” Jeffrey Sharkey, executive director of the Florida Medical Marijuana Business Association, wrote in an email to Marijuana Business Daily on Thursday.

“Hopefully, this appeal by the governor will allow the courts to resolve the issue of vertical integration and the number of licenses allowed and provide stability in the marketplace so the Department of Health can move forward with finalizing their rules.”

While Florida’s MMJ market has been one of the hottest in the country with 246,079 qualified patients, it has been described as an oligopoly where licenses are worth tens of millions of dollars.

As of July 19, six vertically integrated MMJ businesses operated 122 of the 144 dispensaries statewide.

The recently released Marijuana Business Factbook projects that MMJ sales in Florida will reach $425 million-$525 million this year, up from $225 million-$300 million in 2018.