Florida Judge Rejects Limits on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Following Governor Ron DeSantis’ efforts to get the Florida legislature to lift its ban on smokable marijuana, the state is facing another challenge to laws limiting its medical marijuana program. For the second time, a circuit judge has challenged a 2017 Florida law that placed a cap on the number of dispensaries that are allowed to open.

Both the smokable cannabis ban and dispensary cap were created in a 2017 law that looked to regulate Amendment 2, Florida’s Medical Marijuana Legalization measure, which passed with the support of more than 71 percent of voters in 2016.

On Feb. 2, Karen Gievers, Leon County’s Circuit Judge, definitively sided with the state’s largest chain of dispensaries: Trulieve. Gievers upbraided the state legislature and Florida health officials for ignoring the voters’ will and limiting patients’ access to medical cannabis.

The state’s health department suggests that the dispensary cap works to avoid over-saturation of the medical marijuana market. But Judge Gievers ruled out that theory. “Handicapping existing, performing, competitive businesses to help less competitive businesses, at the expense of consumer efficiency and choice, is not rationally related to a legitimate public purpose,” she wrote.

Republican Governor DeSantis’ push to legalize smokable cannabis made headlines

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