Florida Court Says State's Restrictions on Medical Marijuana Industry are Unconstitutional

Florida’s Court of Appeals ruled that the state’s medical marijuana rules are unconstitutional. Florigrown, LLC filed the lawsuit in 2017 against the Department of Health after it rejected Florigrown’s efforts to register as a medical marijuana treatment center as permitted by the state’s 2016 constitutional amendment. Florigrown argued that the state's 2017 legislation unconstitutionally limited the number of available licenses and developed a special class to receive these licenses.

The lower court agreed with Florigrown and issued an injunction against Florida’s DOH. The DOH challenged this decision and lost. The appellate court found that the state’s 2017 legislation to be unconstitutional as it unreasonably capped the number of medical marijuana licenses to 14 and forced licensee to be vertically integrated, both of which contradicted the definition of a medical marijuana treatment center as defined in the constitutional amendment. The court’s ruling makes both restrictions on the medical marijuana industry null and void.

The case shows the strength of voter driven initiatives to create a constitutional mandate for medical marijuana within a state. The court upheld the voter’s intentions and rejected the ability of the state legislature and regulatory bodies from arbitrarily infringing on a constitutional right.

What does this ruling mean for the industry, the current licensees and the state’s next steps in developing the medical marijuana industry? Florida’s market is about to open up and become significant. The legislature and Department of Health, as two-time losers, will need to adopt a framework closer to Michigan’s, which has no license caps and permits multiple license types. Florida has over 21 million residents and is one of the fastest-growing medical marijuana markets, which should make it attractive for many. The high water mark for a Florida medical marijuana license may have passed as the uncertainty of license caps has been resolved.