There are 21 million people in Florida, millions of whom will eventually qualify for the medical-grade marijuana that voters approved in November. Very soon, a hell of a lot of weed will be legally sold in the Sunshine State. And so far, lawmakers have given exactly seven companies the right to grow and sell all of that pot.And it's not just monopolies. One version of the regulations moving through committee would ban edibles, smoking, and vaping ~ although vaping would be allowed for terminally ill. How generous!
While Tallahassee might yet hand out a few more licenses by the end of the session, the seven-member pot cartel is already cashing in big-time on its advantage. Yesterday Canadian firm Aphria paid $25 million to buy out Chestnut Hill Tree Farm, an Alachua nursery with one of those licenses. And last year, Massachusetts-based Palliatech bought a minority stake in Miami's only legal pot grower, Costa Nursery Farms.
As millions of dollars flow into those lucky license-holders, critics say the state is letting a de facto monopoly rake in major cash at the expense of the patients who need that medical pot.
"The Legislature may ultimately act to sanction what will be the creation of the largest marijuana growers in the world outside the Sinaloa cartel," says Ben Pollara, head of United for Care, which spearheaded Florida's successful medical marijuana campaign. "Which begs the question: Which licensee is El Chapo looking at buying?"
So let's see, if you can't smoke it, eat it, or vape it, how exactly are you supposed to take it? I guess the only other option is as a suppository? Shove it up your ass? You first State Rep. Ray Rodrigues!