TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - A bombshell ruling issued Tuesday is threatening to shake up the state’s medical marijuana business industry. It could lead to more competition in the marketplace.
The appellate court ruling has sent shock waves through the state. The ruling found the state’s seed to sale model established in 2017 violated the amendment passed by voters the previous year.
“It's significantly important,” said Jeff Sharkey with the Florida Medical Marijuana Business Association.
Sharkey said it could open the door for more specialized businesses to get into the marketplace.
“So if you want to be a grower, if you want to be a processor, if you want to be a distributor,” said Sharkey.
John Morgan, the crafter of the medical marijuana amendment, declared on Twitter soon after the ruling was issued the “war on weed is a thing of the past."
After taking office, Governor Ron DeSantis was quick to criticize the state’s current system.
“They created a cartel essentially,” said DeSantis at a January press conference. "I don't know that the amendment necessarily prohibits that, but that is not good policy.”
Even the architect of the seed to sale model, Congressman Matt Gaetz took shots at his own work.
“We wrote the legislation that way not because it was necessarily best for patients, but it's because that how we had to do it to get the votes,” said Gaetz at the same press conference.
The ruling also strikes down caps on dispensaries.
At last count, 22 growers licenses have been granted. Ten license holders haven’t dispensed any medical marijuana.
However, the ruling doesn’t open the door for unlimited licenses to be granted, which a lower court had ordered. The court directed the Florida Department of Health to draft a new system more in line with the amendment.
“To have the department really think through what's a reasonable number of licenses to meet the 21 million people in Florida, the patients’ needs,” said Sharkey.
Ultimately the Legislature would likely have to pass a new law if the state chooses not to appeal the ruling.