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House Fights To Intervene In Pot Case

Cherie Diez
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The Florida House this week went to an appeals court to try to intervene in a potentially high-stakes case about regulations for the state’s medical-marijuana industry. 

House attorneys filed a notice of appeal at the 1st District Court of Appeal, after Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers in late January refused to let the House intervene in the case, which pits marijuana operator Trulieve against the Florida Department of Health.

In the case, Gievers sided with Trulieve and struck down a law capping the number of dispensaries medical marijuana businesses can run.

The Department of Health has appealed that underlying ruling. In a Jan. 25 motion to intervene filed in circuit court, the House pointed, in part, to its role in carrying out a 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana and to a need to navigate federal laws that make marijuana illegal.

“The Legislature has the sole constitutional authority to make the necessary policy choices for how to implement the (medical marijuana amendment) within the limits of an otherwise conflicting and superseding federal drug policy,” the motion said. “(The law at issue in the case) reflects those legislative choices. The House can defend those choices on appeal from the legislative perspective in a way that the department cannot.”

But Gievers rejected the House’s motion, pointing to issues such as the House not seeking to intervene earlier in the case.