Florida Governor Officially Legalizes Smoking Medical Marijuana

Headshot of attorney George IndestBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On March 18, 2019, Gov. Ron DeSantis officially signed a bill into law allowing the use of smokable medical marijuana by eligible patients. The governor’s signature on legislative bill SB 182, “Medical Use of Marijuana,” was the first he has approved since taking office in January 2019 and was a top priority for the newly elected governor. Additionally, he filed a joint motion to dismiss People United for Medical Marijuana v. Department of Health, a case in which the Florida Department of Health (DOH) was arguing that smoking medical marijuana was not allowed. The action ends the litigation in which a state court judge had already ruled that a prior state law ban on smoking medical marijuana was unconstitutional under the Florida Constitution.

SB 182 “Medical Use of Marijuana.”

The new law takes effect immediately; however, it could take time for the Department of Health (DOH) to approve new rules to guide doctors. This means that patients might have to wait a little longer for smokable forms of marijuana to become available. “I thank my colleagues in the Legislature for working with me to ensure the will of the voters is upheld,” DeSantis said in a released statement. “Now that we have honored our duty to find a legislative solution, I have honored my commitment and filed a joint motion to dismiss the state’s appeal.’’ Click here to read the press release issued by Gov. DeSantis.

To see a copy of SB 182 “Medical Use of Marijuana”signed by Governor DeSantis, click here.

Click here to read my prior blog on DeSantis’ prior deadline on the smoking ban.

Let’s Get Real

Let’s get real for a minute. Having smokable medical marijuana made legal (as the Florida Constitution Amendment of 2016 already did), does a lot more to help patients who need it than may initially be realized. All state agencies and law makers have done since the passage of the constitutional amendment was to attempt to over-regulate and restrict the availability of medical marijuana to the public. Now citizens don’t have to wait for more regulations to be adopted, for purification standards and manufacturing plants to be set up, for dispensaries to be opened up amid local city zoning challenges; they can just stop next to the road in the right location, pick some plants, and smoke them. Cheap, easy, widely accessible. It could bode the end of the world.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact the Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Anderson, Curt. “Florida governor signs smokable medical pot bill into law.” Associated Press. (March 18, 2019). Web.

Rohrer, Gray. “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs smokable medical marijuana bill into law.” Orlando Sentinel. (March 18, 2019). Web.

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“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Federal Court in Connecticut Rules Workers Can’t Be Denied Jobs for Medical Marijuana Use

George Indest Headshot

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On December 7, 2018, a federal judge in Connecticut ruled that a nursing home violated an anti-discrimination provision of the state’s medical marijuana law when it rescinded an employee’s job offer. It’s the latest in a series of similar clashes between federal and state laws around the country that came out in favor of medical marijuana users trying to keep or obtain jobs with drug-testing employers. The ruling provided clarification on medical marijuana use under the Connecticut Palliative Use of Marijuana Act (PUMA).
Advocates hope the new decisions are a sign of growing acceptance of marijuana’s medicinal value.

Background of the Case.

The plaintiff was a healthcare worker who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 2012 after being in a car accident. She notified a potential employer that she qualified under PUMA for her use of medical marijuana to cope with the effects of the accident. However, when a drug test came back positive for marijuana, the nursing home rescinded her job offer anyway, citing federal law which indicates marijuana is still illegal.

The plaintiff sued alleging the nursing home violated PUMA’s anti-discrimination provision. This provision of the law allows qualified patients to use marijuana and prohibits employers from taking adverse employment actions because of the individual’s qualifying status.

Court Grants Summary Judgment.

U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey Meyer ruled the nursing home discriminated against her based solely on her medical marijuana use was in violation of state law. In doing so, the judge rejected the nursing home’s argument that the federal Drug Free Workplace Act (DFWA) required the nursing center to rescind the plaintiff’s job offer. The court also rejected the nursing home’s argument that the federal False Claims Act (FCA) bars the center from hiring the plaintiff because its employment of someone who uses medical marijuana in violation of federal law would amount to “defrauding of the federal government.” The court stated there is no federal law that bars the center from hiring the plaintiff on account of her medicinal marijuana use outside of work hours.
(We have seen these this type of creative argument made before by both plaintiffs and defendants in litigation arguing that certain actions constitute a violation of the False Claims Act when actually they do not; in this case, the judge failed to be suckered into agreeing with this argument.)

Significance of this Case.

This decision is significant for employers because it clarifies the relationship between federal and Connecticut state laws concerning marijuana use and provides guidelines for drug testing in the employment domain. It indicates that PUMA protects a qualifying patient’s medical marijuana use outside the realm of working hours. The case is now heading to a trial on whether the plaintiff should receive compensatory damages for lost wages from not getting the job.

In this case, there was a strong state law in favor of the employee which allowed the use of medical marijuana. The federal court gave deference to the state law.

Additionally, the decision will likely be used in arguments in similar cases across the county. As this area of the law continues to develop and change, employers should consider reviewing their own drug-related policies and adjust them as necessary.

To read about another case where an employee got fired for using marijuana outside of work, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

“New rulings on medical marijuana use go against employers.” The Denver Channel. (December 5, 2018). Web.

Elser, Wilson. “New Ruling on Medical Marijuana in the Workplace Clarifies Connecticut’s PUMA Legislation.” The National Law Review. (December 7, 2018). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Florida Governor: Crush Out Pot Smoking Ban

George Indest HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On January 17, 2019, new Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said that the Florida State Legislature should end its losing efforts to keep in place a ban on smoking medical pot or he will end the state’s defense of the “no smoking” policy in a pending lawsuit. The current lawsuit was brought because the state Legislature and former administration was taking the position that medical marijuana could not be smoked, despite the amendment to the Florida Constitution that was passed making medical marijuana legal. The constitutional amendment does not say anything at all about what the proper forms of medical marijuana could be, leaving most methods of ingestion open.

The new governor also indicated that he thinks the state should loosen the restrictive licensing requirements for medical marijuana treatment centers, requirements that include vertically integrated businesses and capping the number of retail outlets they can operate. He did not include, however, support for legalization of the drug’s recreational use.

The Fight for Florida’s Medical Marijuana Legislation.

In 2017, Governor Rick Scott signed, and Legislature passed, both the smoking ban and the current overly-restrictive licensing structure.  A circuit court judge ruled in May 2018, that the smoking ban is unconstitutional, but then Scott appealed the decision. Click here to read one of my prior blogs and learn more about the status of marijuana in Florida.

DeSantis indicated that he will direct state attorneys to move for a stay on any decision in the case until mid-March 2019. This will give the Legislature two weeks at the start of its annual session to pass legislation rescinding the ban, he said. If this does not happen, he said he will have the state drop its appeal of the decision, leaving the circuit court judge’s decision in place.

Make sure to check out our Marijuana Law Blog regularly to stay up to date on the changing laws and regulations. Also, visit our YouTube page and watch our Medical Marijuana Video Blog to learn more.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact the Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Farrington, Brenden. “Florida Governor Wants Ban on Smokable Medical Pot Ended.” U.S. NEWS. (January 17, 2019). Web.

Hale, Nathan. “Fla. Gov. Wants Legislature To Cut Medical Pot Smoking Ban.” Law360. (January 17, 2019). Web.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Florida medical marijuana legislation, medical marijuana representation, marijuana attorney, medical marijuana lawyer, marijuana defense attorney, legal representation for medical marijuana issues, Florida marijuana law attorney, marijuana law defense lawyer, representation for marijuana growers, representation for marijuana distributors, defense attorney for marijuana growers, defense attorney for marijuana distributors, defense lawyer for medical marijuana, decriminalization of marijuana in Florida, health law defense attorney, Florida medical cannabis representation, medical cannabis lawyer, cannabis defense lawyer, medical marijuana defense attorney, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, medical marijuana laws, medical marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana laws and regulations, legal representation for recreational marijuana in a business, legal counsel for marijuana law, legal representation for marijuana criminalization, legal representation for marijuana regulations, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Colorado Jury Rules in Favor of Marijuana Grow Business in Federal RICO Lawsuit

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On November 14, 2018, a federal jury in Denver rejected claims involving the odor that was allegedly coming from a pot farm. This was a case that was being closely watched by the marijuana industry. The marijuana business had been sued for damages to neighboring property value under anti-racketeering laws.

Given the recent approval of medical marijuana in Florida, it seems likely that there would be “copy cat lawsuits” filed in Florida, as well. The only difference in Florida would be the long history of pig farm precedents that exist.

A Closely Watched Lawsuit.

This was an important suit for the marijuana industry because it was the first federal suit brought under federal anti-racketeering laws. If the lawsuit had been successful, it could have created a new blueprint for opponents of marijuana legalization to dismantle the industry through civil cases under RICO laws.

The couple who own and live on land adjacent to the grow facility said the facility damaged their property values because of noise and odor. Because it harmed their views, and because no one wants to live near illegal activity, they claimed damages of $1 million.

The grow facility argued during trial that it didn’t cause any odor; its odor-control system doesn’t vent outdoors.

After a short deliberation, the jury ruled in favor of the marijuana grow facility and found it was not responsible for any of the alleged damages. Attorneys that represent similar marijuana facilities said proving property damages in cases like these are very difficult and hope the outcome of this case will deter others from trying the same. Click here to read more on this case.

Click here to read one of my prior blogs.

It is unclear to me why the Plaintiffs in this case prosecuted the case under a RICO theory since such a cause of action is usually very difficult to prove. However, I am not aware of all the facts of the case. It seems to me that a simple suit for nuisance against the marijuana grow farm would have been easier to prove and obtain an injunction on.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Foody, Kathleen. “Colorado Lawsuit Could Ripple Through US Cannabis Industry.” Health News Florida. (October 30, 2018). Web.

Ingold, John. “Jury finds in favor of Colorado marijuana grow in closely watched federal lawsuit.” The Colorado Sun. (November 18, 2018). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Growing marijuana industry, marijuana defense attorney, medical marijuana defense attorney, lawyer for medical marijuana growers and distributors, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, complex health care litigation attorney, federal medical litigation attorney, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, medical marijuana laws, marijuana laws, medical marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana laws and regulations, legal representation for recreational marijuana in a business, legal counsel for marijuana law, marijuana law attorney, legal representation for marijuana decriminalization, legal representation for marijuana regulations, legal representation for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, DOJ investigation attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, The Health Law Firm, complex medical business litigation lawyer, professional license dfense attorney, medical marijuana license defense lawyer

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Colorado Federal Lawsuit Could Have Far Reaching Effects on US Marijuana Industry

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On October 30, 2018, a federal trial in Colorado could have far-reaching effects on the United States’ marijuana industry if a jury sides with a couple who say having a cannabis business as a neighbor hurts their property’s value. The Denver trial is the first time a jury will consider a lawsuit using federal anti-racketeering law to target cannabis companies.

The Suit.

The couple bought the Colorado land for its views of Pikes Peak and built a house on the rural property. But, they claim “pungent, foul odors” from a neighboring indoor marijuana grow operation have hurt the property’s value and their ability to use and enjoy it.

Vulnerability to similar lawsuits is among the many risks facing marijuana businesses licensed by states but still violating federal law. Suits using the same strategy have been filed in California, Massachusetts and Oregon.

Why This Suit is A Big Deal.

Congress created the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) allowing prosecutors to argue leaders of a criminal enterprise should pay a price along with lower-level defendants. The anti-racketeering law also allows private parties to file lawsuits claiming their business or property has been damaged by a criminal enterprise. Those who prove it can be financially compensated for damages times three, plus attorneys’ expenses.

In 2015, those who opposed the marijuana industry decided to use this strategy against marijuana companies along with investors, insurers, state regulators and other players. A Denver-based federal appeals court ruled in 2017 that the couple could use anti-racketeering law to sue the licensed cannabis grower neighboring their property. Insurance companies and other entities originally named in the couples’ suit have gradually been removed, some after reaching financial settlements out of court.

The question now is whether the jurors will accept the argument and agree to the amount of $1 million.

Be sure to check our Marijuana Law Blog regularly and stay on top of the latest news.

To read another blog I wrote on a medical marijuana case in Colorado, click here.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Foody, Kathleen. “Colorado Lawsuit Could Ripple Through US Cannabis Industry.” Health News Florida. (October 30, 2018). Web.

“Colorado Lawsuit Could Ripple Through US Cannabis Industry.” The Associated Press. (October 30, 2018). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Growing marijuana industry, marijuana defense attorney, medical marijuana defense attorney, lawyer for medical marijuana growers and distributors, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, medical marijuana laws, marijuana laws, medical marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana laws and regulations, legal representation for recreational marijuana in a business, legal counsel for marijuana law, marijuana law attorney, legal representation for marijuana criminalization, legal representation for marijuana regulations, legal representation for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, DOJ investigation attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Florida’s Medical Marijuana Once Again Threatened by Unnecessary Legal Setbacks

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The resignation of Florida’s medical marijuana chief on August 17, 2018, and a series of recent court losses, has once again threatened the state’s efforts for controlled legalization of marijuana.

On August 2, 2018, a Tallahassee judge struck down the licensing structure that the state Legislature and Department of Health (DOH) enacted for medical marijuana providers. In his order, Circuit Judge Charles Dodson said the state’s imposition of a cap on the number of medical marijuana treatment centers and its requirement for vertical integration from growing to dispensing “directly contradicts” a 2016 amendment to the Florida Constitution.

“Implementing” the Law or Impeding the Law?

In 2014, the Florida Legislature took the first step toward a sane approach to marijuana by legalizing a non-euphoric strain, known as Charlotte’s Web.

In November 2016, Amendment 2 to the Florida Constitution, legalizing medical marijuana, passed with 71 percent approval, its authorization for medical use. However, since that happened, state officials, state bureaucrats and the state legislature have done nothing but attempt to restrict and impede its use, ignoring the will of the people they are supposed to be serving.

The legislature passed an “implementing” law for the amendment in 2017, but the rule-making process and initial rollout has been slow and bogged down by complex litigation. To read more on the law, click here.

Attempts to artificially limit the number of growers, the number of dispensaries, and the forms that are legal to use, have all been used to impede implementation.

Such herculean efforts by state bureaucrats and legislatures, who are supposed to be carrying out the will of the citizens, is unconscionable. Even when the Florida Constitution itself requires them to preform certain duties, they just obstruct, obstruct, obstruct. Thank goodness for conscientious judges like Judge Dodson, who honor the law, follow the law, and will hopefully help enforce the law, regardless of the politics of those who chose to ignore and impede it.

This just shows that future constitutional amendments concerning the legalization of marijuana and marijuana products, and I am sure nothing less than additional constitutional amendments will be required, will need to state that they are self-implementing and no act of the state legislature or rule of any state agency is required carry it out. In fact, any such future constitutional amendment should specifically prohibit them from interfering with its implementation.

Ongoing Legal Battles.

With the recent rulings rejecting a smoking ban and saying a cancer patient can grow his own plants, experts fear that Judge Dodson’s August ruling will drastically alter the current landscape. Lawyers, who specialize in the field of marijuana law, say this ruling has the greatest potential impact of any decision to date. Additionally, banking and money issues, litigation and politics have continued to shake up the outcome.

Thanks for attorney John Morgan and other advocates who take up and challenge the attempts to fight the will of the people of Florida. During the next election, marijuana advocates should run advertisements specifically targeting those officials who enacted legislation or who attempted to enact agency rules placing obstacles to implementing the constitutional amendment.

What Outcome is Best for the State of Florida?

The state of Florida has the potential to become one of the nation’s largest markets for medical marijuana, likely worth billions of dollars. It has the third-largest population, which is growing and features a large number of elderly residents, lawyers noted. So, when it comes to medical marijuana, the question remains, “What is best for the state of Florida in the long run?”

To learn more on the status of Florida’s marijuana legalization, click here to read one of my prior blogs. Be sure to check our Marijuana Law Blog regularly for updates.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact the Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Hale, Nathan. “Fla. Medical Marijuana Measure May Boost Business For Firms.” Law360. (October 25, 2016). Web.

Hale, Nathan. “Setbacks Shake Up Fla.’s Medical Marijuana Rollout.” Law360. (August 17, 2018). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Florida medical marijuana legislation, medical marijuana representation, marijuana attorney, medical marijuana lawyer, marijuana defense attorney, legal representation for medical marijuana issues, Florida marijuana law attorney, marijuana law defense lawyer, representation for marijuana growers, representation for marijuana distributors, defense attorney for marijuana growers, defense attorney for marijuana distributors, defense lawyer for medical marijuana, decriminalization of marijuana in Florida, health law defense attorney, Florida medical cannabis representation, medical cannabis lawyer, cannabis defense lawyer, medical marijuana defense attorney, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, medical marijuana laws, medical marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana laws and regulations, legal representation for recreational marijuana in a business, legal counsel for marijuana law, legal representation for marijuana criminalization, legal representation for marijuana regulations, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Florida Appeals Court Rules Smoking Medical Marijuana Not Allowed During the Legal Process

Attorney George F. Indest III HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On July 3, 2018, the First District Court of Appeal reinstated an automatic stay on the lower court’s decision that an existing medical marijuana smoking ban is unconstitutional. The lower court ruled that smoking marijuana is an acceptable medical treatment. However, marijuana opponents obtained a stay on allowing it while they appeal. The appeals court disagreed with Circuit Judge Karen Gievers’ previous decision to lift the stay.

The appeals court found that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that they will suffer irreparable harm if the automatic stay is reinstated. In May 2018, Judge Gievers ruled that Section 29 in the Florida Constitution allows qualifying patients to access, possess and use marijuana for medical treatment as recommended by their physician, with no restriction on the method of use except for a ban on smoking in public. Click here to learn more on her recent judgement.

The appeals court stated that after a preliminary review of the wording of the Medical Marijuana Amendment and the disputed law, it concluded that the plaintiffs had not sufficiently demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits as required to justify vacating the automatic stay.

The case is People United for Medical Marijuana Inc. et al. v. Florida Department of Health et al., case number 2017-CA-001394, in the Circuit Court for the Second Judicial Circuit of Florida. To view the order in full and learn more, click here.

For more information on another one of Judge Gievers recent cases involving medical marijuana, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Still hazy on the status of medical marijuana in Florida? Check our Marijuana Law Blog regularly for news updates!

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact the Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Hale, Nathan. “Medical Pot Smoking Ban Stays In Place As Fla. Fights On.” Law360. (July 6, 2018). Web.

“Up in smoke: Appeals court rejects bid to allow smokable medical marijuana in Florida.” News Service of Florida. (July 3, 2018). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Florida medical marijuana legislation, medical marijuana representation, marijuana attorney, medical marijuana lawyer, marijuana defense attorney, legal representation for medical marijuana issues, Florida marijuana law attorney, marijuana law defense lawyer, representation for marijuana growers, representation for marijuana distributors, defense attorney for marijuana growers, defense attorney for marijuana distributors, defense lawyer for medical marijuana, decriminalization of marijuana in Florida, health law defense attorney, Florida medical cannabis representation, medical cannabis lawyer, cannabis defense lawyer, medical marijuana defense attorney, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, medical marijuana laws, medical marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana laws and regulations, legal representation for recreational marijuana in a business, legal counsel for marijuana law, legal representation for marijuana criminalization, legal representation for marijuana regulations, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Failed Medical Marijuana Applicant’s Appeal Goes Up in Smoke Thanks to Pennsylvania Court

Attorney George F. Indest III HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On April 20, 2018, a Pennsylvania court agreed that a company that lost out on a potentially profitable cannabis dispensary permit needed to exhaust administrative remedies before it could file suit. The suit would challenge the constitutionality of the application process for the state’s new medical marijuana program.

A court panel rejected arguments from Keystone ReLeaf LLC (Keystone), which has asked that all medical marijuana permits issued by the state’s Department of Health (DOH) be revoked. Keystone claims that the administrative appeals process did not offer an adequate remedy for the denial of its application.

Keystone’s lawsuit accused the DOH, along with its new Office of Medical Marijuana, of engaging in an inequitable and unconstitutional permitting process. Additionally, Keystone claims the DOH failed to explain how it scored the applications.

The company was one of 450 to submit applications to the DOH as the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act took effect under a set of temporary regulations in 2017. There were 12 growing and processing permits and 27 dispensary permits issued through the initial application process.

In response, the DOH filed preliminary objections to the lawsuit seeking dismissal based on Keystone’s failure to complete the appeals process.

The court stated that challenges to the constitutionality of permitting programs typically did not require the exhaustion of administrative remedies. However, Keystone’s lawsuit dealt with how the department was applying the act and regulations governing its implementation. Additionally, where Keystone claimed it did not have an adequate administrative remedy available, the court determined the process needed to be completed before any court could make such a judgment.

To read the court’s opinion on this case, click here.

To stay on top of medical marijuana policy, click here to read one of my prior blogs and check our Marijuana Law Blog regularly.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Fair, Matt. “Pa. Court Won’t Derail State’s Medical Marijuana Program.” Law360. (April 20, 2018). Web.

Miller, Matt. “Jilted medical marijuana permit applicant’s ‘premature’ appeal to Pa. court goes up in smoke.” PennLive. (April 21, 2018). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Growing marijuana industry, marijuana defense attorney, medical marijuana defense attorney, lawyer for medical marijuana growers and distributors, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, medical marijuana laws, marijuana laws, medical marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana laws and regulations, legal representation for recreational marijuana in a business, legal counsel for marijuana law, marijuana law attorney, legal representation for marijuana criminalization, legal representation for marijuana regulations, legal representation for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, DOJ investigation attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Credit Union in Colorado Granted Charter: Will Serve the Marijuana Industry

George F. Indest III, Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

By: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by the Florida Bar in Health Law and Shelby Root

Marijuana businesses are flourishing in the four states that it is legal, including D.C., but are still finding it difficult to operate without access to a traditional banking system. In Denver, Colorado, that may all change if the credit union can get approval from the Federal Reserve. The Fourth Corner Credit Union was created to serve the marijuana industry, by creating a bank focused on offering a solution to the massive cash flow that these businesses bring to Colorado. The credit union was granted a charter on November 19, 2014, by Colorado’s banking regulators. However, it is still waiting for a master account number from the Federal Reserve to gain access to the country’s electronic banking system. Until it is granted that, Fourth Corner will remain empty with a “Coming Soon” banner above the front door.


The Fourth Corner Credit Union’s Business Model.

The Fourth Corner Credit Union will accept cash deposits and allow customers to make electronic transfers for payroll and rent, and to purchase supplies. To comply with state and federal rules, Fourth Corner will largely limit its operations to Colorado. Transactions will be approved by bankers who are keeping a close eye on where the money is transferring to ensure it is going towards the business and not redirected to cartels or gangs.

Any business or person with an interest in the marijuana industry will be eligible to join Fourth Corner, which organizers say will look like any other credit union.


The Difficulty in Running a Business without a Traditional Banking System.

The marijuana industry is popular in the states it is legal. Colorado has nearly 800 recreational marijuana shops, which brought in $38 million during February 2015. Without the use of a banking system businesses are unable to take credit cards, debit cards and checks. Thus, dealing in cash is the only way to operate the business. Handling enormous amounts of cash is not a small task, it is time-consuming, dangerous and costly. The owners are left to store cash in safes, tote in bags or boxes to the tax office and utility company, hand out in bundles on payday, and move it by armored vehicles and armed guards.


A Potential Reason for the Delay.

There is not a case of a state accredited financial institution being denied a master account. Usually, approval will come within weeks, but it has been nearly seven months and still no answer. Mark Mason, an attorney advising the credit unions’s founders, has a suggestion for a reason why the Federal Reserve may be wary of granting the account number. He believes that this will “legitimize the marijuana industry to the extent it’s never been.”


Blog Editor’s Comments:

One of the biggest legal problems that exist in states that have legalized marijuana is how to handle the money that is generated. Without access to federally regulated banks (which won’t touch such proceeds), it is difficult to pay taxes, purchase supplies, pay employees or run the business. This is a step in the right direction to remedy this problem.


Comments?

What are your thoughts on a credit union focused on the marijuana industry? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.


Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact the Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.


Sources:

Hughes, Trevor. “Colorado OKs Marijuana Credit Union.” USA Today. (December 8, 2014). From:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/12/08/colorado-oks-marijuana-credit-union/20056367/

Fox31 Denver. “Pot Problem: Banks Still Don’t Want This Cash.” (April 14, 2015). From:

http://kdvr.com/2015/04/14/pot-problem-banks-still-dont-want-this-cash/

Richtel, Matt. “The First Bank of Bud Marijuana Industry in Colorado, Eager for Its Own Bank, Waits on the Fed.” The New York Times. (February 5, 2015). From:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/08/business/marijuana-industry-in-colorado-eager-for-its-own-bank-waits-on-the-fed.html?_r=0


About the Authors:
George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620. Shelby Root is a summer associate at The Health Law Firm. She is a student at Barry University College of Law in Orlando.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

“Eight Big Things to Watch” for Marijuana Policy in 2015-From Brookings Institution

George Indest HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by the Florida Bar in Health Law

Marijuana policy has increasing developed through the years. Today, twenty-three states have legalized medical marijuana and four states have approved recreational marijuana, including DC. Below is a summary of The Brookings Institution article “Marijuana Policy in 2015: Eight Big Things to Watch.” During 2015, the country and foreign nations will see big changes involving marijuana policies.


1. New States are Planning and Preparing for Legal Marijuana

In November 2014, recreational marijuana was legalized in Oregon and Alaska. During 2015, state legislatures in their respective state and alcohol regulatory bodies will work side by side to design regulations governing legal marijuana. It is important to watch what these states decide because it may determine whether the states marijuana policy will succeed or fail.

Oregon is making history by becoming the first state to border another who has already legalized marijuana. The border between Oregon and Washington will bring insight into what extent states will go for marijuana market advantages regarding bordering states.


2. Which States will be the next to Legalize Marijuana?

This year will show which states are taking steps to initiate ballots in 2016 to legalize marijuana. California and Florida are two of the states expected to advance an initiative, and other states are likely to follow their lead. Ballot initiatives are expensive, thus, to determine who is pushing follow the money.


3. State Legislatures and Marijuana

During the legalization of recreational or medical marijuana the difficult part of the process is getting it past the state legislature. Throughout 2015 it is important to determine which state legislatures have proposals involving marijuana policy and to keep track of their progress during legislative sessions. Some states, like Tennessee, may propose relaxing bans on hemp production, while others may seek to reaffirm legal bans on marijuana.


4. Marijuana in the Courts

During 2015, numerous high-profile lawsuits centered around marijuana policy are likely to be settled. The most recent decision is Coats v. Dish Network, a Colorado case in which a licensed medical marijuana user was let go after testing positive for the substance during a drug test at Dish Network. The Colorado Supreme Court ruled against Mr. Coats. The court held that employees who engage in medical marijuana use that is allowed by state law but unlawful under federal law are not protected by Colorado’s “lawful activities statute.” To read a past blog we published on the case Coats v. Dish Network, click here. To view Coats v. Dish Network in its entirety, click here.

Another case to look out for is Nebraska and Oklahoma v. Colorado, in which the states claim that Colorado’s legalization of marijuana is violating federal law and causing problems in bordering states. The Supreme Court’s decision on the case will clarify the federal courts’ willingness to engage in this area of policy.


5. Clarifying DC’s Marijuana Policy

The future of Washington, DC’s marijuana policy will be determined by the federal courts. The court will need to clarify the policy’s future if there is congressional inaction on Initiative 71.


6. Continuation of Marijuana Policies in Colorado, Washington and Uruguay

Both Washington and Colorado are continuing to work on their recreational marijuana policies. Colorado is working through the issues of edibles, product testing, and home-grows. An important issue to watch is the challenge Washington faces in luring consumers away from the black market cost effectively. Overseas, Uruguay will continue to steadily work on a bureaucracy and consumer base for legal marijuana.


7. Current Marijuana Data is Imperfect and Incomplete

It is too early to make conclusive claims about recreational marijuana since there is not enough data. During 2015, and subsequent years, steady flows of data from Colorado and Washington will surface. This data will provide a better idea about the impact of legal recreational marijuana on society.


8. Marijuana as a Topic During the Presidential Campaign

Marijuana will definitely be a topic during the 2015 presidential campaign. Unlike most political issues, marijuana policy is not determined by political party. Thus, it will be interesting to hear the presidential candidates opinions during 2015 since it will be a big part of the campaign.


Comments:

What are your thoughts on the eight big things to watch in 2015? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.


Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.


Source:

Hudak, John. “Marijuana Policy in 2015: Eight Big Things to Watch.” Brookings Institute. (January 8, 2015). From:
http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/fixgov/posts/2015/01/08-marijuana-policy-2015-things-to-watch-hudak


About the Author:
George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.


Keywords:
Florida medical marijuana, medical cannabis, medical marijuana, medical marijuana lawyer, medical marijuana license, defense attorney, defense lawyer, Charlotte’s Web, health lawyer, marijuana, recreational cannabis, recreational marijuana, The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

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