HOUSE SEEKS TO DEFEND MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAW
As court battles continue about whether the state is properly carrying out a 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana, the Florida House is again trying to weigh in.

House attorneys Friday gave notice that they will appeal a Leon County circuit judge’s ruling that blocked the House from intervening in a lawsuit to help defend a controversial 2017 law that was designed to carry out the constitutional amendment. The move came as the House also is asking the 1st District Court of Appeal to allow it to intervene in another case about the 2017 law.

The notice filed Friday, as is common, does not detail the House’s arguments. But it seeks to overturn a decision last month by Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson that kept the House out of a lawsuit filed by Patients and Producers Alliance, Inc. against the Florida Department of Health.

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The non-profit Patients and Producers Alliance argues in the lawsuit that the 2017 law violates the constitutional amendment because it improperly restricts medical-marijuana firms. The House has contended in circuit court that it should be allowed to defend the law, in part pointing to the state’s need to navigate federal laws, under which marijuana remains illegal.

“The Florida House of Representatives, as one-half of the state’s policymaking branch, is well-situated to respond to the plaintiff and the court in defense of (the 2017 law),” the House said in a January filing in circuit court. “Notably, the MMA (medical marijuana amendment) gives implementation authority --- not policymaking authority --- to the Department of Health, and the Florida Constitution’s strict, express separation of powers precludes this court from exercising policymaking authority. That leaves the Legislature with the sole constitutional authority to make the necessary policy choices for how to implement the MMA within the limits of an otherwise conflicting and superseding federal drug policy.”