Seattle-based Leafly Holdings has filed a legal challenge contesting the Florida Department of Health’s (DOH) restrictions banning them and other third-party cannabis operators from doing business in the state, according to a News Service of Florida report. The action comes after the Health Department claimed in a February memo that Leafly’s business model—specifically the practice of patients ordering cannabis through third-party sites who then pass on the order to local dispensaries, where patients pick their order up—was “directly related to the cultivation, processing and dispensing” of cannabis.
The memo resulted in most if not all of the third-party, online, ordering websites and dispensary contracts being canceled in Florida, the report says. Leafly is now asking an administrative judge to reverse the decision, saying the DOH used an “unadopted and invalid rule” to draw their conclusions.
Prior to the DOH memo, which threatened to impose fines on dispensaries who continued to work with Leafly and others, many patients and shops relied on the sites to fulfill online medical cannabis orders, the report notes. In the memo, then-DOH Chief of Staff Courtney Coppola said regulators had received complaints about patients and caregivers procuring medical cannabis through the online services. Coppola, now a deputy chief of staff for Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, said in the memo that dispensaries were barred from doing business with websites “directly related to the dispensing of marijuana or marijuana delivery devices.”
“Contracting with Leafly.com, or any other third-party website, for services directly related to dispensing is a violation of this provision.” — Courtney Coppola via Florida News Service
Leafly disagrees. Attorney Seann Frazier argued that “Leafly does not prepare, possess, purchase, transmit, distribute, sell or dispense any medical marijuana in Florida or elsewhere.”
“Leafly does not, and has never, dispensed medical marijuana to any qualified patient in Florida,” he said in the report. “And Leafly has never provided services directly related to the cultivation, processing, or dispensing of marijuana or marijuana delivery devices in Florida.”
In their countermotion, the DOH asks Administrative Law Judge Suzanne Van Wyk to dismiss Leafly’s challenge and to block the company from obtaining certain documents related to patient information, arguing that sharing patient information is a violation of state law. Additionally, the state argues that since it does not regulate Leafly, the firm has no standing to file the action in the first place.
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