TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (The News Service of Florida) - A Tallahassee judge has refused to allow the Florida House of Representatives to intervene in a medical marijuana lawsuit, saying the Republican-dominated Legislature should sue the federal government if lawmakers are unhappy that he struck down a 2017 pot-related statute as unconstitutional.
Ruling from the bench during a hearing Monday morning, Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson rejected the House’s request to intervene in the challenge filed by Tampa-based Florigrown, owned in part by strip-club operator Joe Redner.
Florigrown is challenging a state law, passed during a special session last year, aimed at implementing a voter-approved 2016 constitutional amendment broadly legalizing medical marijuana.
Redner said the legislature is ignoring the will of Florida voters.
“None of this makes any sense to me, because it’s a constitutional amendment. As my attorney has said, if you want to respect the constitution, then follow the constitution," said Redner. "It’s as simple as that.”
Judge Dodson ruled last month that the law, which among other things, capped the number of medical marijuana licenses the Department of Health can approve, was unconstitutional and ordered the state to begin registering Florigrown and other medical-marijuana firms to do business in the state.
Florigrown Attorney Luke Lirot said that shouldn’t be too much to ask.
“Step over all of this political noise. Just do what the amendment says you should do," said Lirot. "Make medical marijuana safe and available to the citizens of Florida that need it.”
The circuit judge in October found fault with parts of the law that capped the number of marijuana licenses and created a “vertical integration” system that requires marijuana operators to grow and process cannabis and distribute related products.
The health department has appealed the case, but Dodson on Monday refused to block his October order from going into effect. That decision is also expected to be appealed.
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, though it has been legalized for medicinal and recreational uses in more than three dozen states, including Florida.