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Politics

Medical Marijuana Law Is Constitutional as Written, State Tells Appeals Court

December 27, 2018 - 6:00am

Defending a 2017 law that set regulations for the state’s medical-marijuana industry, Florida Department of Health attorneys have asked an appeals court to overturn a circuit judge’s ruling that they say “injected confusion and uncertainty” into the licensing of marijuana firms.

The closely watched case centers on whether a law passed during a 2017 special legislative session violated a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana. Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson in October found the 2017 law unconstitutional and issued a temporary injunction requiring state health officials to begin registering the plaintiff, Tampa-based Florigrown, and other medical-marijuana firms to do business.

But in a 41-page brief filed last week at the 1st District Court of Appeal, Department of Health attorneys argued that Dodson’s temporary injunction should be tossed out and that the 2017 law is constitutional in the way it regulates medical-marijuana treatment centers, as marijuana firms are called.

“(The constitutional amendment) provides a framework under which qualifying patients, physicians, caregivers, medical marijuana treatment centers, and the marijuana itself, would be subject to regulation and oversight,” the brief said. “The amendment also expressly provides that the Legislature may enact laws consistent with the amendment. In June 2017, the Legislature did just that when it enacted a broad regulatory scheme implementing the amendment, including regulations for the licensing of medical marijuana treatment centers.”

But in his October order granting the temporary injunction, Dodson hammered the Legislature for the way it had carried out the constitutional amendment, which was approved by more than 71 percent of voters in 2016.

“The court is concerned the Constitution is being treated as just a recommendation,” Dodson wrote. “It cannot be. The Constitution is the law of the land --- the supreme law of our government, which we must all live by. The medical marijuana amendment of the Constitution is specific. Much of that specificity is being ignored.”

The Department of Health filed the brief last Thursday, two days after the 1st District Court of Appeal agreed to grant a stay of Dodson’s ruling while the case moves forward. The appeals court also said consideration of the case would be “expedited.”

The 2017 law, in part, included caps on the number of medical-marijuana licenses that would be issued by the state and required what is known as a “vertical integration” system that requires marijuana operators to grow, process and sell medical marijuana --- as opposed to businesses being licensed to play different roles in the industry.

Dodson wrote in the October order that there would be “irreparable harm” if he did not issue the temporary injunction.

“The public interest was clearly stated with the passage of the Constitution’s medical marijuana amendment by over 70 percent of Florida voters,” the judge wrote. “The amendment makes it clear the Department of Health must do the matters required in it to ensure the availability and safe use of medical marijuana by qualifying patients. The department has failed to do so.”

But in the brief filed last week, Department of Health attorneys pushed back against the idea that the injunction was in the public interest and warned of “confusion and uncertainty” in licensing medical marijuana treatment centers. Currently, 14 firms hold licenses, with 81 dispensing locations across the state, according to the brief.

“(The) public has a strong interest in avoiding the widespread confusion that the order has injected into the MMTC registration process,” the brief said. “Specifically, by ordering the department to begin registering MMTCs without any framework or standards in place, or without specifying what regulatory framework or standards set forth (in state law) would remain in place, the order potentially exposes the public to unqualified parties growing, processing, and dispensing marijuana for medical use completely outside the realm of any regulatory scrutiny or oversight. To state the obvious, that does not serve the public’s interest.”

Comments

Unless the active ingredient is given in a known quantity and a repeatable dose, it's not medicine but recreational. I'm not saying there is no medicinal effect, only that it is not a quantifiable dosage and hence not medicine. In my opinion many if not most advocates of "medical marijuana" are using it as a pretense, a cat's paw, their true goal is legal recreational use of marijuana.

Suffice it to say that the plant has medicinal properties. Maybe someday it will be quantifiable, that is if they ever get around to study it. I am glad to see that many other states have embraced legalization and that many more states will be legalizing in the upcoming year.

Republican Lawmakers and those in the Executive Branch have done nothing but obstruct and obfuscate since A2 passed. They have purposely defied the will of Floridians.

I believe that medical cannabis should be freely available, in the state of Florida, to hell with the elected leaders, the record will show all those who have acted to obstruct the law, the law that was voted by a majority of voters in Florida.

"to hell with the elected leaders". Yeah, this is the "We the People" that I want voting. FML

I believe the DOH is not the enemy here and it's time the citizens of Florida were told the truth about "medical cannabis" and how complex this issue really is. The team of 5 Ph.D.s, 2 M.D.s and some of the top, real-world cannabis growers/processors/dispensary owners I am part of have worked in 15 states and 3 countries on Cannabis issues from teaching healthcare practitioners, guiding governments through the maze of uncertainty that is real, and experiencing what a mother goes through with her daughter whose having 100 plus seizures a day, have given me a great deal of knowledge and experience in how complex this really is. The enemy is a world that declared cannabis a dangerous drug and stopped all research on it for 50-plus years. The DOH has a very difficult path to develop and implement a system that is rife with uncertainty at every turn. The DOH needs all of our help to develop a regulatory system. There is not one state that has successfully regulated this industry. NOT ONE! Don't believe me, I'll send you the reality from numerous sources. I do believe that Cannabis will be proven to be a great benefit to a lot of people suffering from certain diseases, BUT that remains to be scientifically documented and defined. I have seen too many people being misled into not following a system that might save their lives in favor of one that is in the current headlines. Cannabis can't kill you because it doesn't impact the brain stem, but the dangerous pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, heavy metals, and unproven processing procedures, by people who lack any real scientific knowledge and experience to create a product to protect the consumer, WILL and HAS killed a lot of people. For example, no one wants to hear of the 4 people who died from smoking legal medical mmj which had been treated with a fungicide whose active ingredient is hydrogen cyanide. Greed is another enemy. Fraudulent testing and labs that have been caught doing it is another enemy. There aren't any responsible doctors who will advocate smoking anything! You don't have to be an expert to realize this or the facts that we are treading on very new ground with concentrates (which, in most cases, just concentrate the toxins used to grow/process the marijuana) and delivery methods that turn cannabis and its chemicals into some of the worst carcinogens known to man. Why isn't this mentioned in these lawsuits! Why is it that these lawsuits are being backed in most cases by people or groups that are all trying to strangle the state into doling out license to unqualified groups and just throwing science out the window because they have the money to continue creating legal chaos to line their own pockets and have no real regard for the safety of the consumer! I can argue science all day and you will for sure lose here. For example, read the National Academy of Sciences study edited by a group of the top medical cannabis doctors and researchers in the world who use medical cannabis in their daily practices, titled "The Health Benefits of Marijuana."! I know these people and I know they don't care about the "patients." Please base your decisions on developing the science of marijuana to grow, process and dispense products "Safe for Human Consumption," not legal maneuvers that will create a system that will end up poisoning people more than they already are! If you want more science just look for it and avoid the hype.Manny.johnson@organicanngroup.com

Simple solution, totally legalize cannabis in Florida, let the the home grown green thumbs grow it, cut out the commercial interests, it is a weed and under normal out door growing the sunshine state has enough rain and sun for this plant to grow.

more stall and avoidance tactics by the Republican led DOH. This is not what the people voted for, so either get it together, have the courts rule and/ or vote them out.

You just want to get high!

The only confusion and uncertainty is at the state level and the department of health. The Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, also known as Amendment 2, was approved by voters in the Tuesday, November 8, 2016, general election in the State of Florida. Lets see now, all of 2017 and all of 2018 have passed, that's 2 whole years and the state is still is in turmoil, one has to wonder how competent are these people?

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