Florida finally legalized medical marijuana in November 2016. An incredible 71% of residents voted in favor of Amendment 2. It came two years after the same vote failed. The initiative initially legalized MMJ for patients with conditions such as ALS, PTSD, AIDS, and glaucoma.
After initial protests against the new legislation in certain quarters, Governor Rick Scott signed the bill into law in June 2017. It took a considerable period for Florida to finally get its act together concerning providing MMJ to qualified patients. Indeed, up until March 2019, it was illegal to smoke cannabis in the state.
Today, the program is relatively well-established, and it costs $75 to apply for a card. You can only purchase cannabis products from a licensed Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC). In this guide, we look at the different locations where MMJ is available. We also look at the top-performing brands.
At the time of writing, there are over 306,000 MMJ patients in Florida. We hope this article proves useful to some of you!
Vertical Integration – Does It Hurt the Market?
At present, there are approximately 230 licensed dispensaries in Florida. As we outline later on, there are a handful of brands that seemingly control the market. As a result, there are only 22 licensed operators, and only 14 actively produce and dispense products. This is a far lower number than many states with significantly smaller MMJ programs.
It seems as if the current ‘vertical integration’ system is creating a cartel of companies with deep pockets.
In Florida, all marijuana organizations are responsible for growing, processing, and distributing their products. There is no allowance for cooperation or subcontracting barring a handful of exceptional circumstances.
In 2019, a firm called Blue Dream Industries listed two licenses to grow MMJ in Florida. One was ‘on sale’ for $40 million, and permits the owner to operate a maximum of 30 retail stores. The other license cost $55 million and allows the buyer to open 35 retail stores. License holders also receive a greenhouse for cultivation.
In Florida, some companies have purchased licenses for $67 million! Small, independent organizations have no chance of getting involved in the industry.
The vertically integrated system means that, in theory, the cannabis you get in one dispensary should vary significantly from others. One would hope this would result in high-quality weed across the board. However, as the MMJ industry is such a closed shop, there is a danger of the standard leveling out.
What Can an MMJ Cardholder Buy in Florida?
At present, the law states that a physician can’t certify more than six x 35-day supplies of smokable marijuana for a single patient. In rare cases, a patient can ask for an exception from the Florida Department of Health. Incidentally, a 35-day supply is capped at 2.5 ounces.
Also, MMTCs cannot sell more than a 70-day supply of marijuana in all forms at one time. Cardholders are allowed to possess a maximum of four ounces of smokable cannabis at one time. The MMJ law does not permit cannabis cultivation, so you have no option but to visit an MMTC.
Dispensaries in Florida are not the same as those in locations such as Colorado. You will not see the product in glass jars for inspection. Instead, the cannabis is packed tightly in containers, and you are not able to see the standard of the produce. Also, it is sold by strain and weight, so patients don’t have the option of browsing through jars to see the best-looking weed.
Dispensaries are dotted around the state, but you may still face a lengthy drive depending on where you live. The law also entitles MMJ patients to purchase ‘delivery devices’ for their smokable marijuana. This means you can buy bongs and pipes in MMTCs.
If you happen to live far away from a dispensary, you can avail of a delivery service from certain brands. Yes, you can order your cannabis, and someone will bring it to your home!
Aside from smokable flower, you can purchase extracts, oils, and tinctures. The state government eventually released guidelines regarding edibles in Florida. Now, MMTCs can only sell edibles with a maximum of 10mg of THC per serving, and 200mg in total. Patients under the age of 21 can’t purchase edibles with a THC of over 10%.
Where Can I Purchase MMJ in Florida?
As we mentioned earlier, there are only 14 companies with licenses that actively grow, process, and sell cannabis in Florida:
Number of Active Dispensaries
Liberty Health Sciences
You will find that the likes of Trulieve will soon open further dispensaries as it looks to control the market.
As you might expect, Miami residents have access to a significant number of dispensaries. Eight of the brands mentioned above have at least one MMTC in Miami. Ten organizations have a presence in Tallahassee, while seven have MMTCs in Lakeland.
Overall, there are over a dozen dispensaries in the Miami area. You should find at least 15 in Jacksonville, while the Bonita Springs region has nine.
Who Leads the Florida MMJ Market?
Trulieve is the dominant force at present. Initially, companies were only able to have 28 locations. However, the law changed, and Trulieve has pounced. It leads Surterra in terms of dispensary numbers and is highly likely to have over 50 in Florida by 2021, if not sooner
In what is becoming a booming market, the top-ranked dispensaries in Florida are watching the dollars flow in.
By early 2020, the MMJ market was worth over $1 billion per annum in the state. Although it owns fewer than 20% of Florida’s MMTCs, it sells almost 60% of the state’s flower! In contrast, Surterra only accounts for 9% of dry flower sales, followed by Curaleaf with 8%.
Trulieve is also a clear market leader when it comes to THC concentrate sales. It is responsible for approximately half of Florida’s ultra-potent cannabis products. Surterra is next with 11%, followed by Curaleaf with 9%. Trulieve’s dominance only became apparent in early 2020. It posted four of its strongest five weeks ever in Florida in February and March 2020.
Final Thoughts on the Florida MMJ Market
The state has finally allowed its medical marijuana market to grow. However, the existing vertical integration system is bad news for competition. It ensures that only huge corporations with seemingly limitless funds can even enter the market, let alone thrive. There is simply no way for a small entrepreneur to get involved with licenses alone, likely costing $30 million. Newcomers must also control, growing, processing, testing, labeling, and selling.
If Florida were to legalize recreational cannabis, things might change for the better. One would expect Trulieve to be against such a move as it could lose its current dominance. At least MMJ patients in Florida now find it relatively easy to purchase what they need. If you can’t get to the dispensary, it could deliver to your door!
Don’t have an MMJ card yet? Find out how to get a medical marijuana card in Florida.