Update on Florida's Smokable Medical Marijuana Case

As discussed in our prior blogs, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers ruled that the state law prohibiting smoking marijuana is unconstitutional. Only ten minutes later, the Department of Health (“DOH”) appealed this decision to the First District Court of Appeals (“DCA”). The DOH’s appeal caused an automatic stay which meant the ban on smokable flower in Florida continuing until a final order was issued in the appeals process. Then, the challengers, Florida for Care joined with John Morgan and two patients, filed an appeal of the automatic stay.

On June 6, 2018, Judge Gievers ruled that the stay should be lifted because delaying her ruling any further would create irreparable harm to patients. Further, the Judge pointed out that the stay being lifted returns the law to its previous form the way voters intended it to operate at the time it was voted on. On June 11, 2018 medical marijuana would be smokable in Florida, giving the DOH a few days to finalize rules on the issue.

This came as very positive news for both patients as well as nurseries that cultivate and dispense medical marijuana. Patients have taken the logical position that smokable flower is sometimes what is best for their treatment plan as we are all not made the same. While the nurseries are happy to be able to offer new products to their patients.

However, the DOH then also appealed the Judge’s decision to lift the stay in the First District Court of Appeals. From there, the DCA gave the Plaintiffs 3 days to respond. The Plaintiffs then responded by filing a “Suggestion that the Judgment be Certified as Requiring Immediate Resolution by the Florida Supreme Court.” This would give the DCA the power to send the case straight to the states supreme court. The rules of appellate procedure allow the DCA to certify circuit court orders as requiring immediate resolution by the Supreme Court when the issues “are of great public importance or have a great effect on the proper administration of justice throughout the state.

Judge Gievers is a favorite of the medical marijuana industry as she also recently ruled in favor of Joe Redner, in that he can cultivate his own marijuana, which he uses in a raw form for juicing. Judge Gievers ruling applied specifically to Redner, however, this is another step in the right direction. The DOH has also appealed this decision, and Redner’s attorneys followed suit in requesting the court to hand the case over to the states Supreme Court.

It will be interesting to follow how the DOH and the legislature handle the effects of these rulings. As the legalization of medical marijuana is fairly new to the Florida it has been a trial and error process. If you are a nursery that is applying for an MMTC license or has been wrongfully denied an MMTC license contact us as we can help you attain your license and serve Florida’s patients. We can also help you stay compliant on a going forward basis. Lets face it, there are so many regulations set in place by the DOH and the state’s legislature it is hard to keep up while running your business. Let us handle that side of your business for you, so you can be even more successful in serving Florida’s patients!