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Florida Lifts Smoking Ban for Medical Marijuana

March 20, 2019

On Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that repealed the smoking ban for medical marijuana patients that was previously put in place by Governor Rick Scott. This is a huge victory for the medical marijuana industry in Florida as retailers will finally be able to sell smokable flower. Lifting the smoking ban is expected to increase medical marijuana sales by tens of millions of dollars.

DeSantis Repeals Ban

While the law takes effect immediately, it will take a few months before flower hits the shelves as regulators are still working out the details. The Florida Department of Health will spend the next 90 days drafting rules for smokable cannabis products, but some industry professionals estimate that it could be sooner than later.

CEO of Trulieve, Kim Rivers, noted that, “All indicators are that Gov. DeSantis would like this to be implemented quickly.” This ruling has Rivers seeing green as she expects profits to soar as cannabis flower makes up 40%-60% of total dispensary sales in other legal states. Lifting the smoking ban will likely attract new more people to apply for a medical marijuana card. “We do anticipate this will be (another) draw for patients to enter the market in Florida,” Rivers stated.

Licensing More Dispensaries

Executive director of the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida, Jeff Sharkey, thinks this will be hugely beneficial for medical marijuana sales in Florida. Sharkey was quick to point out that, “Higher retail sales also will bode well for ancillary services.” The next course of action is for Florida to start licensing more retailers as currently there are only a few main players.

Even though a Florida Judge ruled the provisions in the law that cap the number of licenses is unconstitutional, many of these decisions have been caught up in the courts over the past few months. Right now there are around six companies that own the majority of medical cannabis retailers:  Trulieve, Surterra, Curaleaf, Cresco Labs, Knox Medical and Liberty Health Services.

Establishing a Competitive Market

It is worth noting that some major medical marijuana businesses contributed to lobbying lawmakers to repeal the smoking ban. Surterra donated $1.1 million while Trulieve contributed $564,000, and Curaleaf paid $469,000. After DeSantis received $50,000 for his gubernatorial campaign it’s fairly evident why this was one of his first priorities.

Now that the Governor DeSantis has repealed the smoking ban the new influx of revenue will only make these companies larger and more powerful in the Florida market. It’s imperative that the Health Department issue more licenses to establish a competitive and balanced medical marijuana industry.