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Florida Supreme Court Justices Order More Briefs In Medical Marijuana Fight

17 hours ago
Originally published on May 8, 2020 8:15 am

Just a day after hearing arguments in the case, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday ordered attorneys to file additional briefs in a battle about whether the state has properly carried out a 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana.

The Florida Department of Health appealed to the Supreme Court after lower courts sided with Florigrown, a Tampa-based company that argues a 2017 state law conflicts with the constitutional amendment.

Florigrown has unsuccessfully sought department approval to become a licensed medical-marijuana operator.

The case involves parts of the 2017 law that affect how many companies can get licensed and how they can operate.

Justices heard arguments in the state’s appeal Wednesday and then issued a one-paragraph order Thursday that seeks briefs on an issue that was not a focus of the argument.

The order said that issue is whether Florigrown has a “substantial likelihood of success on the merits of their challenge to (a section of the 2017 law) as a special law granting a privilege to a private corporation.”

The order did not provide more detail, but Florigrown argued in a January brief that the law “unconstitutionally grants special advantages, benefits, and privileges that only apply to particular entities.”

The brief, in part, pointed to a decision by the Legislature to grant licenses to firms that had previously been in legal fights with the Department of Health about getting approval to operate.

“Thus, the Legislature used the licensing requirements to settle cases in litigation by granting licenses to that limited class of applicants --- to the exclusion of others, regardless of qualifications,” the Florigrown brief said. “Making matters worse, under the statute, the department had no authority to evaluate these entities before registering them and then issuing them a coveted … license.”