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AvatarHeather AllmanAugust 16, 2019
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26min760
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AUTHOR: Heather Allman
PUBLISHER:  CANNABIS LAW REPORT

Through late July, the 2019 Cannabis Crusade saw daily cannabis-related news and a literal state of medical marijuana commotion. A timeline of Florida’s battle for solid ground has been outlined in depth throughout my previous articles.

While the strong Florida medical marijuana Crusaders marched forward, the state itself and the legislators who comprise the Rear Battalion lost some footing

On July 11, 2019, a Florida Appellate Court ruled in the highly-publicized Florigrown lawsuit that the state’s vertical integration was unfair and unconstitutional.

Further explanation and clarity was offered by Beau R Whitney, Vice President and Senior Economist at New Frontier Data, with his insightful Florida Court Rules Vertical Integration Unconstitutional: So, What Now? :

“A Florida court of appeals decision last month ruled that the state’s regulatory framework for its medical cannabis program mandating vertical integration was unconstitutional. What does it mean for Florida’s system, or for other states? What are the associated implications? They may prove vast, impacting not only Florida’s system, but other state regulatory structures throughout the country.

Immediately, regulators in other states with newly legalized programs will seek to avoid similar pitfalls while striking an effective regulatory balance: Oregon’s unlimited license policy is an opposite example of what other states yet prefer to avoid. Florida’s blueprint for vertical integration had been an obvious bulwark against unlimited licensure, but the court essentially deemed it to be an overcorrection.

Vertical integration allows a company to control all factors of production, from seed to sale in terms of the cannabis trade. The benefits of vertical integration are derived through being able to manage all aspects of the supply chain, affording ultimate control over internal costs of production. There are also associated tax advantages (for now), as one division can pass through costs throughout the chain.”

However, the state is slowly earning back some much-needed ground with tactical policy advancements. Coastal Breeze News reported on July 21, 2019 that Florida currently is Working Together to Fix a Broken Political System.

Florida’s marijuana future is showing promise. NORML Outreach Director Kevin Mahmalji reported that one Florida Municipality Is Considering Marijuana Decriminalization Measure. For such an initiative to come to fruition, Florida must consider and adopt good, balanced cannabis frameworks, such as the vital GCP Responsible Cannabis Framework.

On July 18, 2019, in the current spirit of national cannabis cooperation, Bipartisan Lawmakers File Congressional Bill To Encourage Marijuana and CBD Research: “A bipartisan group of House members introduced a bill on Wednesday that would eliminate barriers to research into medical cannabis, a bill that is gaining new co-sponsors weekly.

Although thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized the medical use of cannabis, according to the National Center for Biotechnological Information, 15 Challenges and Barriers in Conducting Cannabis Research still exist: “Despite these changes in state policy and the increasing prevalence of cannabis use and its implications for population health, the federal government has not legalized cannabis and continues to enforce restrictive policies and regulations on research into the health harms or benefits of cannabis products that are available to consumers in a majority of states.”

In late July 2019, Marijuana hearings and reform bills directly affecting the marijuana industry were introduced in the U.S. CongressCannabis has gone from the butt of jokes on Capitol Hill to milestone hearings and the introduction of landmark legalization reform packages that offer the potential to pave the way for billions of dollars in new business opportunities nationwide.

The current situation is in stark contrast to just a couple of years ago, showing how far and how quickly marijuana reform has come in Washington DC – even if it doesn’t appear at the moment to have a good chance to pass the full Congress. But the efforts could set the foundation for passage of major reform in the next few years.”

  • What specific growth did the current Florida program experience? It begins and ends with Curaleaf.

In mid July, Wakefield, Florida-based Curaleaf continues expansion as largest US marijuana company with $875M Grassroots merger, according to Shira Schoenberg: The Wakefield-based marijuana company Curaleaf announced Wednesday that it had signed an agreement to acquire the Illinois-based Grassroots. It is part of a continued expansion that Curaleaf says has made it the largest marijuana company in the world based on revenue, and the largest operational marijuana company in the U.S. Curaleaf’s revenues are expected to be nearly double that of its closest U.S. competitor.”

  • In more notable state growth, Liberty Health Sciences, another rapidly expanding Florida licensed dispensary, also made news.

Liberty Health Sciences Ranks #2 In Flower Sales In Florida, according to a report on cannabis sales: “It has the second highest sales of smokable marijuana in the state of Florida with 16 dispensaries open. Liberty was one of the first companies in the state to provide smokable medical marijuana in all of its dispensaries when bill (SB 182) was signed into law in March 2019.

Flower sales of Liberty and Papa’s Herb brands is the driving factor of the significant market success for this growing category and the Company continues to cultivate brand recognition and attract a constant stream of new patients.”

Greg Miller, Executive Director, NICI offered a fresh perspective on the strong foothold of Florida’s Liberty Health Sciences in his enlightening piece on how This Company Is Raking in the Cash in Florida: In terms of infrastructure, companies with a medical dispensary now have the edge over companies entering the market after recreational legalization. Current medical dispensaries pretty much already have everything needed in place to sell recreational cannabis.

With 10,000 new patients signing up each month, there’s a cannabis land rush in Florida right now. And if you’ve been following along with industry news, you may have seen that this company is second highest in sales for smokable cannabis in the Sunshine State.

Currently, Liberty Health Sciences Inc. has 16 open dispensaries in Florida, and it plans to open three more dispensaries in August. It is also one of the first companies in the state to offer smokable medical marijuana.”

Liberty Health Sciences » STOCK » Liberty Health Sciences Inc. (LHS.CN) (OTCQX: LHSIF)

Trulieve Cannabis has planted itself firmly in its home market of Florida. This state dispensary frontrunner announced that Availability Of Flower Boosted Florida’s Medical Marijuana Market In Q2: “Tallahassee, Florida-based Trulieve Cannabis Corp. benefited from 19% medical marijuana patient growth in The Sunshine State in the second quarter, fueled largely by the introduction of smokable flower in the state’s medical market, the company said Wednesday. 

Flower accounted for half of product sales in Florida in the quarter, the company said — a quarter-over-quarter increase of about 20%.”

Trulieve Cannabis Corp.» STOCK » Trulieve Cannabis Corp. (OTCQX: TCNFF

  • How did the setbacks of our current state program play out nationally in July 2019?

The latest assault on Florida’s fledgling cannabis program was highlighted by both CNN and Cannabis Business Times: FDA Issues Warning to Curaleaf for ‘Unsubstantiated’ CBD Health Claims: “The warning letter included some examples of how Curaleaf Hemp products have been marketed on the company’s social media accounts.”

The fallout for Curaleaf is examined further in A Bump in the Road to Cannabis Scale: Investors immediately slammed U.S. Cannabis stocks, which resulted in a decline of 3.6% for the NICI U.S. Cannabis Index. Curaleaf’s stock suffered more, selling off 7% and continuing its decline yesterday.”

MarketWatch continued to pay close attention to Curaleaf trading with a July 24, 2019 report stock fluctuations in Curaleaf shares tumble 8% after FDA sends warning letter over CBD health claims.

Paula Krasney outlines allowed CBD claims in Proceed with Caution: Marketing Claims for Cannabis and CBD Products. And yes, there are also solid cannabis advertising guidelines available for Florida to adopt statewide, such as the NACB National Advertising Standards: “Cannabis advertising serves as the public face of the industry, and is thus essential to establishing a trustworthy, professional, and ethical business space. The NACB believes that self-regulation is the most effective way for the cannabis industry to control its own destiny. With consumer-targeted ads becoming more prevalent, we need to self-regulate or we will face charges by heavy-handed government-driven rules that may hinder business’s ability to market to and educate consumers.”

These NACB national advertising standards clearly establish how important it is “that the Cannabis industry develop a robust set of business-approved guidelines to build trust amongst market participants and local state and national regulators. The self-regulatory model has worked for organizations like FINRA and the MPAA, and it can work for cannabis.”

Curaleaf » STOCK » Curaleaf Holdings (CURLF:OTCQX) » LEARN » WeedWeek’s Green Rush Glossary– Alex Halperin

In early August, J. Phillip noted that Cannabis Stocks Bounce Back As FDA Signals Key Regulatory Developments: “The industry got a massive boost after the United States Food and Drug Administration made efforts to speed up the process of creating the framework for the usage of CBD. The arguments in favor of CBD are compelling. It does not have a psychoactive effect and is well known for helping people deal with anxiety, pain, and inflammation among others. 

The agency is ‘expediting its work’ in order to address the CBD issue. Considering the fact that CBD is all set to become one of the biggest industries in the years to come, many of the leading cannabis companies want to have some regulatory clarity from the FDA regarding its stand on the substance.”

  • What Summer 2019 growth happened in the medical marijuana program at large?

With the newfound prevalence of CBD, there is plenty of misinformation to go around without unproven  health claims. On July 25, 2019, The Conversation published Cannabis: Misinformation About CBD Can Be Life-Threatening: “CBD is largely non-intoxicating and therefore is thought to be non-addictive. It also appears to be relatively safe to use. It’s no wonder CBD has garnered so much excitement and positive attention.”

By August, A Petition Milestone signals Recreational Marijuana Is One Step Closer in Florida made headlines, marking a big win overall for marijuana and allowing the possibility for advancement in our state’s medical program.

Exciting dispensary news that  another licensee Florida Pot Operator Gets ‘Okay’ For More Storefronts was announced on August 9, 2019: “State health officials have agreed to allow a second Florida medical marijuana operator to exceed a statutory limit on storefronts. The cap on dispensaries, now set at 35 for each operator, was included in a 2017 state law carrying out a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana in Florida.

Health officials on Monday agreed to allow Alpha Foliage, which operates as Surterra, to open six more dispensaries. The company sued after the Department of Health allowed a competitor, Trulieve, to exceed the statutory cap. Surterra attorneys asked the state to interpret the law consistent with the way it did for Trulieve.”

Now that the state has 148 locations, Florida lawmakers and department administrators must pay attention to patient demand and start the Edibles engine. Finalized rules for the state dispensaries to follow must be released so that production and sales can begin immediately. It is long overdue, two years overdue, and Florida patients are entitled to Edibles.

In the meantime, Floridians will have to celebrate the small victories: Palm Beach County law restricts Police Officers from searching vehicles under certain circumstances.

  • How is the current Florida education system experiencing growth from marijuana reform?  

The state’s policymakers at University of West Florida have developed a course called Changing Normative Environment, covering “Medical Marijuana (MMJ) to Recreational Marijuana (RMJ), and the many ways that medical marijuana has influenced social norms and behaviors related to marijuana usage.”

Brittany Shammas announced on August 7, 2019 that a Florida College Will Offer Medical Marijuana ClassesMiami Dade College officials are working on new classes and a certificate program that’ll prepare students for jobs in the medical marijuana industry. But, administrators stress, they won’t be teaching kids how to grow weed. Instead, they’re developing courses on the biology and chemistry of marijuana, as well as the plant’s historical usage and evolving regulation.

That means students will be taught the academic side of marijuana: the physiology of the plant, its natural properties, its medical usage, and how it relates to other medically important plants. They’ll learn about cultivation and extraction, but mostly from a ‘theoretical standpoint,’ says Mark Meade, chair of the college’s Biology, Health, and Wellness Department.”

Florida 2017 legislation “calls for FAMU to receive $10 from each $75 identification card obtained by those approved to purchase medical marijuana. As of last October, the university had received $885,000, according to the Florida Department of Health,concerning Florida A & M University and its inaugural MMERI, or Medical Marijuana Education Research Initiative, as reported by The Tallahassee Democrat. 

Nationally, University of California, Davis “Partners With DEA-Approved Company to Conduct Cannabis Research – Researchers Will Seek to Better Understand the Science of Cannabis,” as outlined by Amy Quinton.

  • Are there corresponding educational setbacks with this new norm of marijuana use?

This USA Today’s opinion warns younger users that Marijuana needs warning labels like tobacco for associated mental, physical health risks.

  • What about physician educational setbacks concerning the new norm of cannabis use? 

Bottom line: physicians-in-training are not prepared to prescribe medical marijuana.

In November 2017, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, warned: “With even more states on the cusp of legalizing medical marijuana, physician training should adapt to encompass this new reality of medical practice. (1) While most physicians-in-training think education about medical marijuana should be required; (2) only 9% of medical schools have medical marijuana documented in their curriculum; and (3) education can improve physician preparedness to prescribe medical marijuana.”

“Why are some doctors still reluctant to prescribe medical cannabis despite evidence of its efficacy? The principal reason is the lack of education. Most doctors have never studied medical cannabis, they only know that cannabis is a drug and that it has no medical application, because that is what they were taught at the university.

This poses a problem because despite the fact that this plant has been medicinally used for thousands of years, doctors are not taught anything about the history of plants with medicinal properties, nor have they studied the endocannabinoid system, the endogenous system that we all have that is the basis of how cannabis works and acts therapeutically in our bodies.

This system was discovered more than 25 years ago, and yet it is still not taught in most universities. It is a shame because it’s such an important system brings balance – so called homeostasis to our bodies.”

For further insight, the Society of Cannabis Clinicians offers a comprehensive report on Educating Healthcare Professionals About the Medical Use of Cannabis.


Sean HockingSean HockingAugust 12, 2019
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29min1290
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AUTHOR: Heather Allman
PUBLISHER:  CANNABIS LAW REPORT

 

Lighting Up Florida Medical Marijuana People: The Crusaders, Part 8

 

May 2019 finally brought “Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries announcing their intentions to introduce legislation in Congress known as the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, to remove marijuana from the CSA, thus ending the nearly century-long federal policy of prohibition.”

 

In spite of marijuana’s federal illegality, our Florida state medical marijuana program seeds are quite possibly on the verge of fully blossoming.

 

On June 14, 2019, the College of Pharmacy at the University of Florida is selected to lead a medical marijuana research consortium, in order to: “evaluate the safety and effectiveness of medical marijuana, consider dosing and routes of administration, including study of the effects of smoking medical marijuana versus other methods of consumption,” among other goals.

 

Almut Winterstein, Ph.D., the Director of the UF Center for Drug Evaluation and Safety expands:

There is an urgent need to enhance the evidence base related to the emerging marijuana and cannabis market in Florida, and UF has been involved with the Florida Medical Marijuana Program since 2014 and is well-prepared to leverage its extensive research infrastructure and broad faculty expertise to investigate the safe and effective use of medical marijuana in the state of Florida.”

 

These “methods of consumption,” otherwise known as cannabis delivery routes, are sold in product form at all of the Florida twelve licensed MMTC dispensaries, including smokable cannabis flower. For now, though, still no edibles.

 

Inhale deeply once again. As promised, the state updates to Florida’s medical marijuana program are not identical after a waiting period of any length.

 

In Times of CBD on July 19, 2019, contributor Denis reported that Florida Looks to Regulate CBD as Sunshine State Looks to Pass Cannabidiol Laws by September.

 

Dispensaries serve as The Crusaders who are literally growing medical marijuana in the state, while figuratively growing the state’s fledgling program simply through their participation.

 

  • What Florida state regulation issues have transpired directly pertaining to local dispensaries and ancillary agents?

The Medics prescribe the patient’s recommendation for medical cannabis products that can be purchased by the patient (1) in various delivery routes: oral, inhalation, tinctures, oils, topicals, smokable; and (2) in various products and strains, depending on the particular dispensary.

 

The Front Lines patient can fill their recommended medical marijuana order at any, or all, of the Florida dispensary Crusader locations, using any desired personal combination of delivery routes and cannabis products.

 

Patients are not limited to specific product choices when receiving their medical marijuana order. Although their personal CME physician can make suggestions concerning product choices or dispensaries that would be best for the patient’s qualifying condition and associated symptoms; however, patients are not required to purchase specific cannabis products.

 

Likewise, patients cannot be required to purchase from a specific state-licensed dispensary. Both the medical marijuana dispensary and cannabis products purchased are at the sole discretion of the individual Florida patient.

 

Licensed Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers authorized to dispense products in any form or delivery route to qualified patients currently include twelve companies called dispensaries.

 

  • Why and how, specifically, can Florida’s current vertical integration model be ruled unconstitutional? Twelve current licensed MMTC dispensaries exist, which begs the question: how can Florida’s vertical integration model requirement for state licensure be intrinsically problematic?

Here’s a timeline of Florida Medical Marijuana between 2016 and 2019, leading up to the ultimate “unconstitutional” decision.

 

In 2016, Florida had only six dispensing businesses licensed by the state’s Department of Health to grow, process, and distribute marijuana, rather than the currently existing twelve dispensary businesses. Trulieve was the first dispensary to be issued a license by the state as noted on July 20, 2016: Florida’s First Medical Marijuana Dispensary Ready To Hit Market.

 

The following year, Floridians got a double hit of medical marijuana news concerning regulation and dispensary licensure. First with Smith and Lannon’s report on how Local Regulation of Medical Marijuana is in Florida, closely followed by Jerry Ianelli’s November 2017 news that a Miami Nursery Sues to Demand Florida Allow More Medical Pot Farms.

 

The following Spring saw the arrival of Elizabeth Koh’s April 3, 2018 article, revealing that medical marijuana provider sues Department of Health over caps on dispensaries.

 

So far, 2019 has not disappointed medical marijuana watchers with its whirlwind of dispensary and licensing news. These days, Floridians see fresh cannabis updates on a regular basis. As discussed in Part 7, the strong Florida medical marijuana Crusaders marched forward and made some ground.

 

But Florida Medical Marijuana System Now In Court was the abrupt January 2, 2019 start to the new year with the announcement:

“The suit is not about stopping medical marijuana in Florida but what the rules ought to be governing a lucrative market. If there is one state that is the most melted in the national melting pot, it’s Florida. That’s fantastic in many ways, but it also means that many different people have strong opinions on serious issues.This, of course, includes marijuana.”

 

Eric Sandy continued the story in Latest Court Ruling in Florida Reiterates Unconstitutionality of Medical Marijuana Law, noting that “If this Circuit Court order is upheld, the limit on the number of retail locations per business license will be out the window.”

 

On January 30, 2019, Nikki Fried announced more help for marijuana patients in a release which closely followed her creation of a new Director of Cannabis position within the state of Florida’s Department of Agriculture:

The new directorship means a full movement forward on to instituting hemp here in our state and moving forward on a rulemaking process in accordance with the Farm Bill that was passed and signed in 2018. Hemp, outlawed in the 1930s, is a member of the cannabis plant family to which marijuana belongs; it was cultivated by humans for centuries for its fiber to make rope and clothing, It’s also used to produce CBD oil, often now taken to treat pain and relieve inflammation.”

 

Jim Saunders explained in the Orlando Weekly that “Florida health department challenges ruling on medical marijuana dispensaries as lawmakers weigh changes to the state’s medical-marijuana laws, the Florida Department of Health has appealed a circuit judge’s ruling that struck down a limit on the number of dispensaries that marijuana businesses can operate.”

 

The Tallahassee Democrat highlighted the highly-anticipated final state ruling that Trulieve could indeed expand to 49 medical marijuana dispensaries in Florida under an agreement with the Department of Health on April 1, 2019.

 

Florida then added eight more medical marijuana operators to the 14 businesses currently selling cannabis throughout the state,” according to Dara Kam of the Sun Seninel.

 

Kelsey Sunderland reported on the much-anticipated case of Tampa strip club owner, Joe Redner, loses in medical marijuana lawsuit: “In a late Tuesday decision, a state court of appeals said it would not reconsider the April decision” concerning his medical marijuana home-grow

 

Like the program’s infrastructure, the seemingly abstract individual pieces of reality outlined here comprise a timeline of the concrete Florida medical marijuana bigger picture. However, we must keep that clear therapeutic, not capitalistic, vision in mind — a vision to make medical marijuana available, accessible, and moreaffordable to all those in need within Florida.

 

The summer Florida medical marijuana news keeps flying fast, like the June 2019‘s news that Nikki Fried names doctors, lawyers, patients to new Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee, citing that “We have a moral obligation to act.”

 

On July 12, 2019, bigger things than smokable OMMU Registry changes were underway concerning Florida-based marijuana company, Jushi, who closed an agreement to acquire Pennsylvania-based Franklin Bioscience in a $63 million deal for medical cannabis dispensary space, according to Marijuana Business Daily.

 

The Orlando Sentinel followed the evolving Florigrown lawsuit saga with its report: “Florida House leaders should be able to participate in a lawsuit that could revolutionize the state’s medical marijuana market, a lawyer for the Republican-led chamber told a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal.”

 

Then came Florida’s medical marijuana rules are unconstitutional, an article stressing the fact that the court struck down the laws that created a “vertically integrated business model” for the medical marijuana program.

 

Cannabis Dispensary Magazine ran a mid-July article by Eric Sandy concerning the highly-publicized suit: Florida Appellate Court Rules Medical Cannabis Market Structure Unconstitutional:

“An appellate court has sided with a Florida medical cannabis business, once again delivering a blow to the law directing the state’s medical cannabis market. Tampa-based Florigrown sued the state after it was denied a medical cannabis business license. The Florigrown lawsuit and its attendant judicial rulings thus far reveal the tension between what the voters approved and what the legislators approved.”

The Florida House seeks to intervene in ‘monumental’ case, and Jim Rosica outlines this unusual case further, noting that the “House wants in on medical marijuana lawsuit: The state does not always speak with one voice.”

 

As of July 19, 2019, Florida has 144 medical cannabis dispensaries, with 142 currently open for operation in the state and 2 new physical locations opening soon. A complete Florida Dispensary List can be found here, updated in July by Florida Dispensaries.

 

NORMLSocietal Impacts of Cannabis Dispensaries/Retailers

 

Thinking about trying natural, safer medical marijuana as an alternative therapy for pain managment? The ASA offers this comprehensive blueprint for states, and John Taenzler’s Legal Implications for Physicians Recommending Medical Cannabis in the USA from July 17, 2019 strongly suggests medical cannabis therapy, or MCT, works phenominally for a wide array of individual pain management over traditional opioids:

“In our studies examining the use of Medical Cannabis Therapy (MCT) by Oncologists and Pain Management Specialists, we asked physicians what their biggest barrier was to their adoption of medical cannabis. Two-thirds (65%), mention legal concerns. Concern for legal exposure and increased risk of malpractice associated with MCT remains high, given federal status of cannabis being Schedule I.”

 

New Frontier National Overview: State Medical Cannabis Markets Vary with Saturation Levels

 

Tom Angell reported some of the biggest and loudest national marijuana news on July 16, 2019 in his Forbes article, shining a brightly-needed light on the noteworthy fact that the U.S. Senate Schedules Hearing On Marijuana Business Banking Access: “In one of the clearest signs of marijuana reform’s growing momentum on Capitol Hill, a Republican-controlled Senate committee has scheduled a hearing for next week that will examine cannabis businesses’ lack of access to banking services.”

 

While reexamining this present saga as it unfolds and providing a brief glimpse of our past, remember that the heart of the present darkness in the Florida Medical Marijuana program must be rethought, reworked, and revamped daily.

 

The state is indeed reviewing and analyzing its current medical marijuana program, not only through the installation of new positions and new people, but also through a serious shift in the direction of the contextual conversation. The past and present must inform the future of Florida Medical Marijuana if the program is to evolve.

 

The installation of the state’s new Director of Cannabis and the direction of individual core components within the existing cannabis structure, such as the wide-spectrum Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee, both exemplify a renewed focus on shifting the context of Florida’s cannabis conversation. If successful, the state could more effectively grow its medical marijuana model beyond vertical integration.

 

Florida imagines a very near future driven by innovation and inquisitiveness about cannabis medicine. Florida hopes that they can ideliver the best version of a marijuana program, a finalized version of the existing program which includes Edibles, and the brightest version in which the most innovative ideas of this collective marijuana movement have been brought to fruition.

 

Why is this issue of Florida medical marijuana important and worth watching? In Florida, the best is always yet to come. While we wait for our next marching orders, read the following Overvew for specific information about five of Florida’s Medical Marijuana Dispensaries:

 

  • OVERVIEW » Quick Reference Guide:

 

  1. (Licensee #1 of 12) Trulieve:

 

  1. (Licensee #2 of 12) Curaleaf:

 

  1. (Licensee #4 of 12) Vidacann:

 

  1. (Licensee #9 of 12) Surterra Wellness:

 

  1. (Licensee #10 of 12) Fluent (formerly Knox):

 

Refer to the following References for further information about the Florida State Medical Marijuana Program:

 

Contact Heather

Heather Allman
B.A.Ed., M.A, University of West Florida
Non-Profit Founder: Allman Education, medicalcannabis101.org
Location: Pensacola, Florida, USA
Phone: 1-850-287-2509
Web: http://medicalcannabis101.org
Twitter and Instagram: @allmaneducation
Email: heatherallman@outlook.com or heather@medicalcannabis101.org
Linked In: http://linked.in/in/heatherjallman

 

Heather Allman


Sean HockingSean HockingAugust 7, 2019
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27min1130
If you wish to re-publish this story please do so with the following accreditation
AUTHOR: Heather Allman
PUBLISHER:  CANNABIS LAW REPORT

Parts 1-6, The Medics discusses how our current U.S. cannabis climate requires brave, willing participants to maneuver carefully in accordance with the medical marijuana rules of engagement for each respective state.

Keep in mind that the simultaneous mad dash through the volatile national marijuana minefield starts with a mental, deafening “BANG! right across the state line as is the case between Florida and Alabama. This is also the complicated case in many other U.S. non-medical marijuana use “border states.” An imaginary dotted line on a map prevents U.S. patients in a non-medical marijuana use state from purchasing or using cannabis medication obtained in the neighboring medical marijuana “border state.”

An imaginary line, yet one that is nonetheless diligently patrolled by our very real federal government sitting atop a national guard tower, waiting to see the specifics of how, if, and when marijuana will be removed from the CSA.

 

  • Wondering about the imaginary line— who cares?

The nation collectively hopes that marijuana is indeed concurrently or subsequently re/de-scheduled out of the research-prohibitive Schedule 1 category into the Schedule 2 or Schedule 3 category. At least then, the possibility of therapeutic medicinal value can be researched and scientifically proven, and factual health benefits of marijuana can be officially recorded.

Already, the year shows a direction of solid marijuana reform with Tom Angell’s recent July 31, 2019 announcement that The 116th U.S. Congress is The Most Marijuana-Friendly Congress In History.

Think the feds aren’t watching this cannabis battle? Think again. They are paying attention, slowly formulating bits and pieces of vital international, federal, and state public marijuana policy.

Many Floridians do travel abroad, so be forewarned and informed with A Guide to Traveling with Medical Marijuana. In addition, Curaleaf’s Before your trip: Cannabis laws you should know offers excellent advice for traveling patients:

“When you’re packing your bags to make the most of the season’s long days and warm nights, you naturally want to pack, and eventually consume, your cannabis. Yet even if your personal use of recreational or medical cannabis is permitted in your neck of the woods, there are factors that hinder your ability to legally enjoy it away from home.”

What about regular, store-bought CBD? On May 19, 2019, Calvin Hughes reported The TSA Says You Can Now Bring CBD On Any US Flight. Maybe.

 

  • Curious about the finish line— what’s next?

Parts 7-8 will attempt to illuminate some of these various dark and grey areas about the many businesses, individuals and groups who work diligently in cooperation with the Florida Department of Health and the state’s OMMU, or The Crusaders, as I like to call them.

In a flashback to the May 26, 2017 CNN Business Money report: 10 things to know about legal pot, Aaron Smith boiled down the issues arising from traveling with marijuana: “You can’t take marijuana across state lines. Even when two legal states share a border, as Washington and Oregon do, carrying weed across state lines runs afoul of federal law. Don’t bring it on a plane, and don’t mail it.”

Where is the finish line for this joint dash that is underway nationwide? Does one actually exist? How does the state make it through to this future finish line?

Wherever this actual or imagined end resides, do not transport or travel across any line with marijuana in hand. Not date or time zone lines, not longitudinal or latitidinal lines, not country or state lines.

 

  • Traveling to, from, or in Florida— what’s next?

Robert McGarvey spotlighted international restrictions in his April 16, 2019 informative, entertaining piece How to Cross Borders with Cannabis, Maybe.

Can You Travel Across State Lines with Legally Obtained Marijuana discusses the intrinsic question:

“So, if the drug is legal in one state, can a person travel with it to another state where it may or may not be legal? The answer is almost definitely no. This is true even if the other state also allows for some form of legalized marijuana.

While the federal authorities have made it public that they will be turning a blind eye to these state initiatives and allowing the states to determine how to handle these matters themselves (for now), they have not agreed to stop enforcing the laws where they have jurisdiction. One of those places is in interstate commerce.”

There is a nearly impossible task ahead for a medical marijuana patient who needs to travel with their usual, full range of cannabis medication products in various delivery routes.

 

  • Seasonally Residing in Florida— what’s next?

Daily Business Review’s July 22, 2019, South Florida Condominium Medical Marijuana Rules and Regulations revealed: “Associations, owners and residents are abuzz about restrictions and regulations preventing owners who wish to indulge in smoking marijuana in the privacy of their own apartments or on their balconies.”

Scott Strachan also covered seasonal residency in December 21, 2018 with his Snowbirds traveling with medical marijuana: What to do: “It’s that time of year in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, and all of Florida. Snowbirds are returning home to their winter residences to ride out the brutal northern winters.”

CannaMD, outlining marijuana laws from state to state, explains that “This question comes down to federal versus state law.” The feds say it is illegal, but 80% of the U.S. has a medical marijuana use program of some kind operating in their home state.

 

 

  • Permanently Residing in Florida— what’s next?

Florida has ‘all-time high’ support for recreational pot, but will it be on the ballot? was the marijuana debate discussed by Amy Driscoll and Alex Harris.

The Miami New Times headline on July 31, 2019, With Petition Milestone, Recreational Marijuana Is One Step Closer in Florida, marked a big win overall for marijuana, and the subsequent advancement possibilities for our state’s medical program.

VIDEO If Recreational Marijuana Will Soon Be Legal Nationwide?

 

  • Attending College in Florida— what’s next?

Even the state’s policymakers have developed a student Wellness Services division, discussing both medical and recreational marijuana use and regulations in a course realizing that “the introduction of medical marijuana has created a new ‘norm’ and has begun influencing social norms and behaviors related to marijuana usage.”

Ultimately, however, in order to make our state program a success, Florida must start the slow process of turning on all the lights in the pitch-dark collective cannabis closet.

 

“Recent national estimates indicate that 14 percent of U.S. public school districts conducted random drug testing in at least one of their high schools during the 2004–2005 school year (Ringwalt et al. 2008), and since 2003, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (OSDFS) has operated a grant program to support MRSDT programs in schools.”

 

  • Watching the Medical Marijuana Model in Florida— who’s affected?

As long as marijuana remains a Schedule 1 substance on the federal CSA, it is my opinion that the lstate has a responsibility to disseminate the endless gossip, memorable anecdotes, and factual information in a way that is both: (1) user-friendly for the general public and (2) update-friendly for medical marijuana ulsers and physicians.

Due to the barrage of daily news received by Florida’s public, patients, and physicians, it is not suprising that we’re all operating in the dark on this issue.

At least the state and its Floridians are in this battle together. We all win a marijuana reform battle in the larger drug war, regardless of where, when, or in what form that future finish line might appear. LEARN– CannaMD medical marijuana research studies.

 

  • Thinking about purchasing illegal marijuana in Florida— what’s the reason for Black Market supply-and-demand?

The supply-and-demand model provides the basic economic framework for drug policy. Efforts to provide economic models of illegal markets go back at least four decades (e.g., Becker, 1968), but the standard economic model has key limitations in understanding illegal drug markets. The implicit features of many legal markets in modern economies—for example, quality certification and available legal mechanisms to guard against fraud—are typically absent from illegal drug markets, also characterized by complex features, such as high search costs (so that consumers must invest time in finding information about the product) that are sometimes found in legal markets but that are difficult to incorporate in simple models.

According to NORML of Florida, here’s a reason why people are still buying weed from their drug dealer and not their local dispensary.

 

  • Wondering about The Crusaders in Florida— who’s involved?

The Crusaders in Florida’s medical marijuana program offer a light at the end of the proverbial treatment tunnel. Let’s take time here to illuminate who and what exactly I’m discussing in relation to the myriad of people fighting for Florida patients.

They are a large-scale joint task force, comprised of the following unique state parts and connected to the overarching national medical marijuana debate:

  1. Florida’s State and Local Dispensaries
  2. Florida Office of Medical Marijuana Use
  3. Florida Department of Cannabis
  4. Florida Department of Health
  5. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
  6. Florida’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee
  7. Florida Department of Transportation
  8. Florida Dispensary– Management
  9. Florida Dispensary- Employees
  10. CME Physicians
  11. MMTC Staff

 

ALL of these parties must work together to form a cohesive consensus on the option of using medical marijuana as viable, state-sanctioned, therapeutic treatment and safer alternative to many experiencing daily pain. Consensus is a monumentally difficult task due to the existing patchwork of state and federal laws.

In this battle for cannabis rights, it is imperative that organizations and legislators and administrators work together with The Medics of this marijuana movement and The Front Lines of patients.

Florida is seemingly getting closer to the final state stretch in the nationwide marijuana battle and is trying to cross that proverbial finish line armed with a clear and workable state program in hand.

My hope is that the reader the cannabis patient, physician, health professional, advocate, or businessperson is flanked with more knowledge about this marijuana madness than when we first started Lighting Up together.

The state of Florida is clearly not aiming for first place, necessarily, but striving to be better. Even if that equals a second place finish.

Predominantly, our Florida state medical marijuana program must strive to have the best possible program we can achieve by working together as an energetic, creative choir of informed and involved individuals. The People’s Choice Award would be the optimal commendation for Florida.

All must maneuver the legal landscape together in the present, day to day from Florida state legislators at the top, down to the Health and Agriculture Departments, down to the Director of Cannabis, down to the newly-formed Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee and its 18 individual members.

A timeline and history of the efforts of Marijuana Legalization: Florida Law and Not Your Parents Pot are provided by the University of West Florida

Eventually, the state hopes that the efforts of our collective, cooperative, cannabis community will trickle down to the inquisitive medical marijuana crop scientists, cultivators, harvesters, and experienced lab technicians for each one of the twelve licensed cannabis dispensaries.

Florida’s state model must consider whether these hopes ultimately seep all the way down to the medical marijuana patient population, in addition to infiltrating the professional population.

 

Florida’s fledgling medical marijuana program must keep a clear therapeutic, not capitalistic, vision in mind. A vision to make medical marijuana available, accessible, and more affordable to all those in need within Florida.

What might be next in the future of the state medical marijuana program? Even at the heart of the current darkness, the Florida Medical Marijuana program imagines a very near, bright future of delivering the best version of a marijuana program. It is a future driven by innovation and inquisitiveness about cannabis medicine. The best is yet to come indeed.

The state must rework and revisit the program’s existing solid frame pieces, ultimately rebuilding the Florida model with updated, workable, regulatory concensus on medical marijuana’s value as a therapeutic substance, not an illicit one.

You read correctly. We must first try to change the context on a national level, change up the existing marijuana battle strategy to have intelligent discourse on a natural herb as medical, rather than to dwell on our current collective context that cannabis = evil.

Yes, we need standard operating procedures at the national level, along with accompanying tax and banking frameworks, but first we must reassess our national ability to effectively shift the black market of marijuana to a legal market. The U.S. must first recognize the intense national medical marijuana momentum that is steadily building, with states like Florida playing a small, supporting role.

On July 17, 2019, the U.S. learned that a California government report finds regulators are unable to fully oversee the state’s marijuana market, as detailed in John Schroyer’s article for Marijuana Business Daily:

“A new audit by California’s Department of Finance found regulators have a long way to go before they have a solid handle on the state’s cannabis industry. The report concluded – despite having established a ‘structural foundation’ for managing the legal marijuana industry – the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC)’s ‘current status and location of personnel is not sustainable to provide effective and comprehensive oversight of cannabis activities.’”

Perhaps desperately needed federal research is a decisive factor in the recent announcement that US growing largest crop of marijuana for research in 5 years, Carla K. Johnson reported on July 11, 2019. The question about prevalent federal marijuana research is consciously on the minds of residents, travelers, and cannabis converts alike.

Brendan Bures tackles this issue on July 15, 2019 with Is The Federal Government Finally Serious About Marijuana Research: “A long-gestating back-and-forth between scientists, cannabis advocates, and legislators has been the paucity of marijuana research. Lawmakers at the state and federal level have both referenced a lack of scientific literature around medical cannabis as reason not to push through reform.”

After revisiting and reassessing intrinsic policy issues and existing frameworks, this Green Wave momentum can effectively, if slowly, shift the context in which we discuss and think about marijuana in our everyday current culture. Or at least veer it off in a marijuana-friendly direction.

This change in strategy, to shift the overall marijuana discussion, could ultimately serve to win the national war on what we consider to be “drugs.” The U.S. must reassess what options exist for natural medicinal alternatives to the societally-acceptable pharmaceutical drugs.

Included first and foremost in that list of nationwide natural and safer treatment options should be medical marijuana.

To this end, we must revisit past policy in order to this to inform our actions in the race to a cannabis consensus. To begin understanding how and why the context must serve to form new public policy surrounding the cannabis plant: Informing America’s Policy on Illegal Drugs.

 

Contact Heather

Heather Allman
B.A.Ed., M.A, University of West Florida
Non-Profit Founder: Allman Education, medicalcannabis101.org
Location: Pensacola, Florida, USA
Phone: 1-850-287-2509
Web: http://medicalcannabis101.org
Twitter and Instagram: @allmaneducation
Email: heatherallman@outlook.com or heather@medicalcannabis101.org


Debra BorchardtDebra BorchardtFebruary 19, 2019
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4min9920

Fresh off its successful IPO, SLANG Worldwide (CNSX: SLNG) has formed a strategic partnership with Florida-based Trulieve Cannabis (OTC: TCNNF) to offer cannabis patients in Florida access to leading cannabis brands in Trulieve’s dispensaries across the state. As part of the agreement, Trulieve will have an exclusive license to SLANG’s extensive portfolio through its U.S. subsidiary, National Concessions Group, Inc. better known as Organa Brands.

Florida is quickly establishing itself as a significant cannabis market in the U.S.  The state has registered over 180,000 medical cannabis patients, a number that has tripled since 2017. According to the Florida Department of Health, Trulieve is responsible for consistently producing and distributing between 60% and 80% of cannabis in the state. The company has 24 dispensaries and home delivery available throughout the state.

“Great partnerships and collaboration are foundational to SLANG’s culture, scalability, and growth strategy,” said SLANG’s CEO Peter Miller. “Not only does Trulieve operate one of the most impressive cannabis cultivation and distribution businesses in Florida, they also share SLANG’s commitment to bringing leading cannabis products to consumers. Every year, SLANG products deliver millions of high-quality cannabis experiences to consumers around the world and, in partnership with Trulieve, we look forward to providing those same exceptional cannabis products to Florida’s patients.”

As a result of the partnership, SLANG will introduce the O.penVAPE, Bakked, District Edibles, and Magic Buzz product lines to Florida medical patients. The company said that the availability of edible products will be subject to regulatory approval by the Florida Department of Health. As part of the agreement signed by the two groups, SLANG will collaborate with Trulieve with regard to the production and distribution of the SLANG portfolio of products, offering in-house training to staff in preparation for production and distribution exclusively through Trulieve.

“SLANG operates with the same goals as Trulieve, working to expand patient access and create products that are high-quality, consistent, and reliable,” said Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers. “SLANG’s expansive portfolio ranges from vaporizer cartridges to edibles to concentrates, all products that will provide Florida’s patients with the effective, natural relief they’re seeking in ways that are innovative and fresh.”

According to an Arcview report titled the State of Legal Marijuana Markets, Florida is estimated to have 550,000 legal potential consumers by 2022. It is projected to reach $1.7 billion in legal spending by the year 2022. The report also stated that medical cannabis sales are expected to reach $456 million in 2018, up from $192 million in 2017.

 

 


Debra BorchardtDebra BorchardtOctober 23, 2018
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5min12862

Ontario-based Scythian Biosciences (OTC: SCCYF) is selling its Florida operation called 3 Boys Farms and using that money to become a multi-state operator.

In July, Scythian sold its Caribbean assets to Aphria (OTC: APHQF)  in a deal valued at $193 million. Scythian spent $136 million to purchase CannCure Investments Inc, which is an Ontario-based company that is itself in the process of acquiring an interest in the Florida-based 3 Boys Farms, along with The Healthcare Organization. That deal was supposed to close on October 15.

Scythian is selling its 100% interest in 3 Boys Farms, which is a strictly Florida operation to Verano in exchange for $100 million of Class B units in Verano. In exchange, Scythian will receive a substantial stake in Verano which will open the company up to key markets, including Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Florida, and Puerto Rico, with additional states to be added in 2019. All part of the company’s expansion strategy. Only four states are operational at this time.

“Scythian delivers on its promise to investors by identifying and investing in the most impressive emerging cannabis company in the U.S. marketplace, Verano,” said Scythian Chief Executive Officer Brady Cobb. “Verano brings strong, efficient and expansive operations to numerous U.S. markets. Its customer-centric dispensary experience that is filled with its diverse and high-quality products (150 SKU’s), cutting-edge cultivation facilities, innovative processing techniques, and seasoned executive/management team will fast-track its standing to the top of the U.S. cannabis industry.”

Deal Details

Scythian is investing $88 million in Class B units of Verano as part of a larger brokered private placement of securities of Verano to accredited investors for an aggregate amount of $100 million. Clarus Securities Inc. acted as the sole agent in the financing. The deal is expected to close on or about October 26, 2018. According to the company statement, Scythian also entered into a membership interest contribution agreement between Scythian and Verano, under which Scythian will acquire the remaining 40% of 3 Boys Farms and, when completed, sell and convey its entire interest in 3 Boys Farms to Verano in exchange for $100 million of Verano class B membership units.

Verano

Verano Holdings is a national, vertically integrated operator of licensed cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, and retail facilities. Verano develops and produces a suite of limited edition, fashion-forward cannabis products, which offer medicinal therapies and inspirational product options. It designs, builds and operates the Zen Leaf™ branded dispensary.

Facilities include:

  • Illinois: one cultivation and production facility and three dispensaries;
  • Florida: one cultivation and production facility and up to 30 dispensary facilities under current law;
  • Maryland: one cultivation and production facility and two dispensaries;
  • Nevada: one cultivation and production facility and one dispensary;
  • Michigan: licenses under development;  
  • Ohio: licenses under development;
  • Puerto Rico: licenses under development

“This transformative investment will fast-track our long-term goal to dominate the most important growth industry in the United States,” stated George Archos, Verano’s Chairman, and CEO. “Even with our accelerated growth, we will remain focused on our core values of operational excellence with an unwavering commitment to producing safe, quality cannabis products for a consistent experience.”

 

 


Debra BorchardtDebra BorchardtSeptember 7, 2018
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4min12520

MedMen Enterprises Inc. (MMNFF) entered into a letter of engagement with Eight Capital to purchase, as co-lead underwriter and joint bookrunner, along with Cormark Securities Inc. as co-lead underwriter and joint bookrunner, and a syndicate of underwriters 13,636,364 units of the company on a “bought deal” basis at a price per Unit of CAD$5.50 for gross proceeds of CAD$75,000,002. The deal is scheduled to close on or about September 28.

In addition to the C$75 million, MedMen has agreed to an over-allotment option to purchase up to an additional 15% of the units at the same price. If this option is exercised, then MedMen will get an additional C$11,250,000 bring the potential total gross proceeds to roughly C$86,250,000 million.

MedMen said it plans to use the proceeds for continued expansion of its retail footprint across attractive cannabis markets, development of its cultivation and production facilities, working capital and general corporate purposes. MedMen currently operates 19 licensed facilities in California, Nevada and New York.

The money will also go towards the newly announced Florida acquisitions. MedMen said it had secured prime retail locations with long-term leases in Ft. Lauderdale, Miami Beach, West Palm Beach, St. Petersburg and Key West. This is keeping with the MedMen strategy of entering premium retail districts with high visibility and heavy foot traffic.

“Our entry into Florida through this acquisition demonstrates our growing national footprint as well as our ability to execute,” said Adam Bierman, MedMen chief executive, and co-founder. “Our real estate team is hard at work preparing to put MedMen branded stores in the most coveted locations in Florida – locations in highly desirable and defensible market areas with high foot traffic and proximity to popular brand retailers.”

Going into Florida won’t come cheaply. MedMen will pay $53 million, half of that in cash. The rest according to a company statement will come from an issuance of 8,549,132 common units of MM Enterprises USA, LLC, a subsidiary of the company, which by their terms are ultimately redeemable for Class B Subordinate Voting Shares of the Company starting on January 1, 2019. The LLC has paid Treadwell Nursery US$6,625,000 in cash as of closing date, September 6, 2018, and will pay the same amounts in cash on each of the dates that are three, six and nine months after the closing date.

Florida is quickly becoming a popular state among cannabis companies. It is the third most populous state in the U.S. with a rapidly growing medical cannabis market and large potential adult use market. The state has high tourist activity and is home to the largest elderly community in the nation. According to ArcView, medical cannabis sales are estimated to be approximately US$1.4 billion by 2021.



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