In a major case that, if won, would open Florida’s medical cannabis market to new players, the state’s Supreme Court on Wednesday heard additional oral arguments. A move considered “rare” came after a May hearing when The Court decided to request another round of oral arguments.
The case filed by Tampa-based medical cannabis company, Florigrown, against the Florida Department of Health, argues that the state law is not in line with the constitutional amendment. Florigrown has unsuccessfully attempted to obtain licensing as a medical marijuana operator in Florida.
The company had previously taken the Department of Health to a county court presided over by Judge Charles Dodson. Dodson’s ruling favored Florigrown, with the Judge instructing the Department to “quit stalling.” However, the Department appealed the ruling with the Supreme Court.
The controversial 2017 law requires that companies handle all aspects of the business from cultivation to processing and distribution of products—a structure known as vertical integration.
According to Florigrown, the structure is unconstitutional and limits the number of businesses that can get involved leaving the market share to a few entities.
An attorney for the Florida Department of Health, Joe Jacquot, argued that the state lawmakers and regulators acted within the constitutional provisions setting up the system.
Florigrown’s attorney, Katherine Giddings, issued a counter-statement saying that the state was not supporting a free market but instead was backing up a monopoly that benefited a few entities.
So far, Florida has issued only 22 licenses, most of which, Giddings argues, are not operating. The nearly billion-dollar Florida cannabis market is currently dominated by few firms such as Trulieve, which controls half of the market share. Florigrown is advocating for an alternative system where firms could engage in various aspects of production and supply chains, also known as “horizontal structure.”