Though medical marijuana has been legal in Florida since July 2017, sick Floridians are still finding it difficult to get access to their medication of choice. And now, Michael Bown and Bill’s Nursery, both of Miami-Dade County are taking it to court.
Michael Bowen, who suffers from epilepsy, and the owners of Bill’s Nursery filed a lawsuit against Gov. Rick Scott’s administration that contends the state is flouting the state’s new medical marijuana law. Florida promised to hand out a total of 10 licenses to what they consider “treatment centers,” which is, according to the law, the only places permitted to grow, process, and sell marijuana. Officials are blaming the delay on a separate lawsuit challenging another provision of the new law.
Under the medical marijuana law Gov. Scott signed in 2014 and 2016, patients that suffer from epilepsy, chronic muscle spasms, cancer, and terminal conditions are allowed to be prescribed low-THC cannabis, or full-strength medical marijuana. The amendment that was recently passed added those with HIV/Aids, glaucoma, PTSD, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis or similar conditions.
The lawsuit asks a judge to order the health department to reopen the application process and “issue at least four more MMTC (medical marijuana treatment centers) licenses forthwith.” Failure to issue licenses to the four new MMTCs is also hurting businesses and patients, lawyers for the plaintiffs argue.
They write the delay is “harming competition in the marketplace by delaying the entrance of new businesses, like plaintiff Bill’s, into the market and thereby strengthening the monopoly hold” that current medical marijuana treatment centers have,
“We remain committed to moving this process forward, and will do so in an expedient and thoughtful manner,” Mara Gambineri, spokesperson for the department said. She added that the state is working “diligently” to implement the new law. Bowen, on the other hand, said the department is blocking patients from getting access to medical marijuana.
“In cases like mine, medical marijuana is literally the only thing that can control my seizures and keep me alive,” Bowen said in a statement. “But the Florida Department of Health’s inexcusable foot-dragging is keeping patients like me from getting safe, reliable access to these lifesaving treatments.”
This lawsuit is the latest in a series of lawsuits Floridians have brought up against the state with regards to medical marijuana. The first, a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on smokable marijuana products, which was initiated by John Mornan, the trial lawyer to initially lead the charge for the amendment. The other is challenging a ban on “home grows.”
As of the time of this publication, no final decisions have been made, but we will update as necessary.
Are you hoping to become an MMTC in Florida? What have the recent amendments and lawsuits meant for your business? Let us know!