The state of Florida legalized medical cannabis in 2016 by way of a constitutional amendment, enabling the formation of a fully legal medical cannabis program. The initiative was approved with 71% of the vote.
In spite of this, Miami’s city government has refused to allow cannabis dispensaries, The Miami Herald reported.
State Vs. Federal Law
State lawmakers never established zoning restrictions to regulate where dispensaries can be opened or created new laws, and instead “relied on an internal legal opinion that the change to the Florida Constitution was moot because federal law continues to categorize marijuana as an illegal substance with no medicinal value,” the report said.
Now, two businesses looking to open medical cannabis dispensaries downtown have filed lawsuits against the city of Miami. They question the city’s decision that federal regulations are a higher authority than the Florida Constitution.
On the other hand, other local governments have set zoning regulations that dictate locations where dispensaries are allowed. The state boasts an estimated 270 dispensaries.
The company MRC44 has been asking for city authorization to open a dispensary since 2019, and it recently got Miami’s zoning board on its side in an appeal, the Herald reported.
While commissioners were supposed to settle the issue on Thursday, they postponed the decision, as another company filed the same type of suit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court on Wednesday.
Both companies argue they should have the right to open dispensaries in any place in Miami without municipal permits simply because the city has no medical cannabis ordinance.
“We will address it court,” City Attorney Victoria Méndez said Thursday, adding “I feel that there’s a discrepancy or a conflict between state and federal law, and I just want to ask a court of law to opine on that.”
Florida Supreme Court Shuts Down Adult-Use Initiative
The lawsuits come on the heels of a Thursday decision by the Florida Supreme Court to stop a 2022 recreational marijuana ballot initiative in a 5-2 ruling.
The court ruled the Make It Legal Florida reform initiative, supported by hundreds of thousands of voters, is "affirmatively misleading," reported Marijuana Moment.
The initiative was deemed misleading due to the fact it claims adult-use cannabis would be lawful in the state without recognizing it would continue to be illegal on the federal level.
Because of this ruling, cannabis advocates in the state are starting from zero, which means drafting another measure and collecting signatures again in the hopes of getting a proposal before voters in 2022.
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