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Florida high court considers marijuana vertical integration, adult-use vote

The Florida Supreme Court heard arguments via teleconference Wednesday on two issues that could significantly alter the state’s marijuana industry.

One case is a longstanding issue of whether the vertically integrated structure of the Florida’s medical marijuana industry violates the state constitution.So far, lower courts have agreed with the assertion by the plaintiff, Tampa-based firm Florigrown, that the state law requiring vertical companies runs counter to a voter-approved constitutional amendment that legalized MMJ in 2016.

If the Supreme Court agrees, Florida’s medical marijuana market would open up to stand-alone licensing opportunities.

But a lawyer for the governor’s office argued that the voter-approved measure did not preclude the Legislature from defining how to implement the law.

The other case before the Florida high court deals with whether a recreational marijuana ballot proposal can go before voters.

A group called Make It Legal Florida has abandoned its effort for this year but wants to get the recreational initiative on the 2022 ballot.

An attorney representing Florida’s attorney general told the justices they should keep the adult-use measure off the ballot, arguing that the initiative is deceptive because it doesn’t explain that marijuana is still illegal under federal law.

But Justice Carlos Muniz questioned that logic.

“Medical marijuana is equally illegal under federal law, right? In my five-minute drive to work, I think I passed 10 medical marijuana dispensaries that are there and operating because of the previous constitutional amendment,” he said.

Decisions on the two cases are expected later this year.

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July 2020
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