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State of Florida doubles down on its defense of medical marijuana oligarchies

In a case that could create a major upheaval in the state’s pot industry, health officials on Thursday asked the Florida Supreme Court to uphold a 2017 law that carried out a constitutional amendment broadly legalizing medical marijuana.

Lawyers for the Department of Health argued that, in creating and passing the law, the Florida Legislature carried out its “constitutional prerogative to serve as the state policymaker and to protect the welfare of the citizenry.”

The state agency urged the Supreme Court to overturn a ruling by the 1st District Court of Appeal that said a key part of the law conflicted with the 2016 constitutional amendment, approved by 71 percent of Florida voters.

The controversy is centered on a key component of the law that established a “vertical integration system” in which a limited number of companies that receive medical marijuana licenses must handle all aspects of the business, including growing, processing and distributing products. The alternative to vertical integration would be to allow companies to play different roles, potentially leading to more players in the industry.

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