In November 2016, Florida voters overwhelmingly approved, with more than 70% voting yes, expanded medical marijuana by passing Amendment 2.
Now comes the tough work of implementing Amendment 2. One bill, Florida Senate Bill 614, proposes to throw out the current medical marijuana system (created in 2015 to grow, process and distribute low-THC cannabis oil) which strictly capped the number of businesses allowed to participate in the medical marijuana business in Florida.
St. Petersburg Republican Jeff Brandes, the proponent of SB 614, calls the current system “state sanctioned cartel” that limits competition and results in higher prices. At present, the Florida medical marijuana system is limited to only seven vertical license holders. A “vertical license” means that the license holder must do it all and grow, process and distribute the product. And, by maintaining the current system it will obviously severely restrict businesses who want to be involved in what will be big business under Amendment 2.
Senator Brandes’ plan would get rid of the vertical license system and instead create four types of licenses: one to grow marijuana, one to process marijuana, one to transport marijuana, and one for retail centers. Each county, and Florida is a large state with 67 counties, could have one retail center per 25,000 residents, or nearly 800 statewide. But, the bill still permits local governments to outright ban retail dispensaries.