Just last week, the Florida Supreme Court disbarred a lawyer specializing in medical marijuana services for telling clients that it was perfectly legal to grow and possess cannabis plants for medical use. Unlike many, more progressive states with medical marijuana laws on the books, Florida is very explicit about which dispensaries, small businesses, and individual citizens can have even a single plant in their possession.
Apparently, several of Ian Christensen’s clients were arrested based on his bad advice. Some even lost their jobs, including one client that had a 25-year history as a registered nurse and another who was an engineer for over 15 years. One client who posted a “grow sign” in the window of his private home announcing that he was cultivating medical marijuana was surprised by a visit from law enforcement officers, complete with arrest warrant in hand.
Another unsuspecting client experienced an entire SWAT team descending upon his establishment after authorities caught wind of his marijuana growing business. To add insult to injury, the client’s landlord then sued in court for the damages done by the SWAT team raid.
But the oddities did not stop there. Bad advice is one thing, but according to the Associated Press via Leafly, Christensen had a very elaborate setup involving Florida MMJ cards and a prescribing physician who wasn’t even licensed in the state of Florida.
“Christensen formed Health Law Services in Jacksonville within a year of being admitted to The Florida Bar in 2013. He referred clients to a doctor who would ‘prescribe’ them marijuana and then issued ‘Official Legal Certifications’ and identification cards saying they had a medical need for the drug and could legally possess use and grow it.
But none of it was legal and the doctor clients paid $799 to see wasn’t even licensed to practice in Florida.”
The Florida medical marijuana industry has had its fair share of challenges since the new constitutional amendment was ratified in 2016. Opening a dispensary involves an enormous amount of bureaucratic red tape, leaving many aspiring vendors confused and angry. Meanwhile, patients legally prescribed medical marijuana are having a difficult time locating a dispensary nearby to their places of residence. With less than a dozen dispensaries available throughout the entire state, Florida patients and small business owners alike will be watching the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling very, very closely.