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Trulieve sues state over limits to medical marijuana dispensaries

Hackney Nursery in Quincy, which has become one of the five nurseries in the state approved to grow medical marijuana, has filed a lawsuit against the state.

The nursery, which does business as Trulieve, owns 12 medical marijuana dispensaries across the state, including the first, which was opened in Tallahassee.
However, the company is looking to expand.

It has filed a “constitutional challenge” against the state’s Department of Health over the number of dispensaries it is allowed to open and where those dispensaries are allowed to be located.

The complaint, which has been assigned to Tallahassee-based Circuit Judge John Cooper, says the constitutional amendment passed by Florida voters in 2016 “does not limit the number of dispensaries for licensed suppliers.

However, an implementation plan passed last year set a limit statewide on dispensaries.

The complaint says Trulieve made clear “its plan to locate dispensaries throughout the state. Upon comparative review, the Department of Health granted Trulieve’s application without any limitation on the number of dispensaries.”

The complaint claims state laws passed in 2014 and 2016 “imposed (no) limit on the number of dispensaries that dispensing organizations could establish … The right to compete statewide without restriction was an essential part of Trulieve’s business plan and a significant incentive to enter this novel business.”

The complaint says the Department of Health “has indicated its intent to limit Trulieve to 25 total dispensaries, apportioned by region, under the 2017 statute. (This) will impair Trulieve’s vested rights as a dispensing organization, and diminish the value of Trulieve’s licensed business,” the complaint says.

The complaint also alleges this cap on dispensaries is intended to temporarily limit competition among medical marijuana treatment centers.

As it moves its way through the courts, the lawsuit will set a large precedent for the future of medical marijuana in Florida — and could further greatly impact Gadsden County as the new home of this booming industry.

The Herald will be following this case closely as it progresses through the state’s court system.

By Weston Williams