Even with the numerous pending lawsuits against the state of Florida and the Department of Health regarding Amendment 2, things have finally started to move forward for patients who have been waiting years for access to medical marijuana. Several dispensaries are open around the state, with Trulieve being the largest provider.
They are also the latest to file a lawsuit against the Department of Health, challenging the 25 dispensary limit that was established by lawmakers last year. Their reasoning? Prior to that law going into effect, they had been approved for at least 27 dispensaries – which they had planned to spread out for more convenient patient access.
“The statutory caps – established years after Trulieve had been awarded a license to grow, cultivate, distribute and sell medical marijuana in Florida – were unfairly and wrongly added after the award and such restrictive caps were never contemplated in the application and selection process,” the company said in a press release.
The complaint filed by Trulieve in Leon County Circuit Court also claims that the limit on the number of dispensaries was partially intended to suppress competition among companies in the state. They are hoping that they will be able to get the judge to make them exempt from the restrictions passed last year so they can move forward with their original planning.
“The restrictions force us to use extremely expensive long-distance delivery and build dispensaries on a model based on geographic distribution, not where patients live,” Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers said. “This not only restricts access to patients in need, but forces higher prices.”
However, this is only one of many lawsuits filed against the Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use – which now totals at eight. At least one of those cases, filed recently in March, would make significant changes to the way Florida’s medical marijuana program was structured when it comes to cultivation and dispensing licenses, creating more of a free-market system.
“The implementation of Amendment 2 and Senate Bill 8A [the implementing law] continues to be frequently litigated,” Department of Health spokeswoman Mara Gambineri wrote in a statement. “While some of these lawsuits have a less direct impact on department operations, others – particularly those regarding the constitutionality of SB 8A – have significant impact on our ability to implement the law.”
Considering this, it is unlikely that Trulieve’s case will be one of the first with an outcome as things still have the potential to change as the other lawsuits against the Department of Health come to an end.