Medical marijuana Archives - Page 3 of 49 - Florida Politics

State asks court to reverse medical marijuana ‘home grow’ ruling

Saying a lower-court judge “misconstrued the plain language of Florida’s Medical Marijuana Amendment,” the state is asking an appellate court to reverse her ruling allowing Tampa strip club mogul Joe Redner to grow and make juice of his own medical marijuana.

Outside counsel for the Department of Health filed an initial brief Thursday in its appeal at the 1st District Court of Appeal. The agency regulates the drug through its Office of Medical Marijuana Use.

Circuit Judge Karen Gievers in April decided that Redner — a 77-year-old lung cancer survivor — has the right to ‘home grow’ under 2016’s constitutional amendment on medical marijuana. His doctor says juiced marijuana is the best way to keep his cancer in remission.

Luke Lirot, Redner’s attorney, has said the state erroneously argues that the amendment doesn’t mean what it says: That qualified marijuana patients can grow their own.

But the state’s brief says the amendment “defines ‘medical use’ as ‘the acquisition, possession, use, delivery, transfer, or administration of an amount of marijuana not in conflict with Department rules, or of related supplies by a qualifying patient or caregiver for use by the caregiver’s designated qualifying patient for the treatment of a debilitating medical condition.’

“The definition of ‘medical use’ does not include the right to cultivate (or grow) marijuana, even for personal use.”

Rather, only licensed providers known as ‘medical marijuana treatment centers’ (MMTCs) are “authorized to cultivate marijuana, (and therefore) any medical use of marijuana that is not cultivated by an MMTC would not be ‘in compliance’ with the amendment,” the brief says.

Redner, the owner of the Mons Venus nightclub, is a vegan. Gievers’ order limits him to no more than eight ounces or raw marijuana daily, based on his doctors’ recommendations. It applies only to Redner and allows him to “possess, grow and use marijuana” only for juicing.

A Health Department spokesman previously said the agency “fully expects Judge Gievers’ ruling to be reversed on appeal.” It’s represented by Jason GonzalezRachel Nordby and Amber Stoner of the Shutts & Bowen law firm’s Tallahassee office. 

Nordby recently joined the firm after being a deputy solicitor general for Attorney General Pam Bondi. She was on the team of state lawyers that lost a case, organized by Orlando attorney John Morgan, against the state’s ban on smoking medical marijuana. That decision also is under appeal.

Marijuana smoking ban case smolders in appellate court

The state constitution “creates a procedural right to seek treatment with smokable marijuana,” according to a new filing in an appeal by patients seeking to light up medicinal cannabis.

Attorney Jon Mills filed a 48-page answer brief late Thursday, in response to the state’s 57-page brief last month arguing that the smoking of medical marijuana should remain outlawed.

The 1st District Court of Appeal case followed a May ruling by Tallahassee Circuit Judge Karen Gievers, who said the smoking ban violates the 2016 constitutional amendment, passed by 71 percent of voters, that broadly legalized medical marijuana.

The next year, lawmakers passed and Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a measure to carry out the constitutional mandate and included a smoking ban.

Prominent Orlando entrepreneur and lawyer John Morgan, who bankrolled the amendment, organized a lawsuit last year challenging the ban. Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office, behind the appeal, filed an initial brief in an attempt to overturn Gievers’ ruling.

In part, Gievers had agreed with Mills that the amendment “recognizes there is no right to smoke in public places, thereby implicitly recognizing the appropriateness of using smokable medical marijuana in private places.”

In his brief, Mills said the constitution’s marijuana provision “permits physicians to certify treatment using medical marijuana— including in a form for smoking—to qualifying patients. That is all (it) does. Nothing less. Nothing more.

“However, (the state law) explicitly prohibits the smoking of medical marijuana as a treatment. It is clearly an enactment contrary to (the amendment).”

The state contends the amendment “does not create a ‘right to smoke’ medical marijuana,” and Mills agreed it “does not in itself create an individual right for anyone to smoke.”

But, he added, the “constitutional framework authorizes treatment with medical marijuana when a physician determines such treatment to be medically appropriate for a specific patient with a debilitating medical condition.”

As of Friday, the court had not ordered oral argument in the case.

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Background provided by The News Service of Florida, republished with permission.

Polling: GOP candidates on wrong side of medical marijuana smoking ban

As Florida Politics was preparing to release the results of our final post-primary, statewide survey focusing on the nexus of 2018 elections and medical marijuana, POLITICO Florida published a story putting Ron DeSantis, Ashley Moody and Matt Caldwell squarely on the wrong side of public opinion when it comes to Florida’s popular medical marijuana law.

The three top-of-ticket Republicans each offered varying degrees of incoherence as they staked out positions in support of Tallahasee’s quixotic crusade against allowing Florida patients to smoke medical marijuana.

DeSantis: “I want to see what happens with [the appeal].”

Moody: “…the litigation to clarify the amendment’s scope is reasonable…”

Caldwell: “…smoking is not a medicinal delivery system…[the smoking lawsuit] is just a fig leaf for full recreational use…”

Meanwhile, in the real world, voters believe — by a whopping 66-24 margin — that medical marijuana patients be allowed to smoke marijuana under the law.

These numbers come from Florida Politics’ polling partnership with medical marijuana advocacy org Empowering Wellness. What began as Wellness Week has now stretched over almost two weeks, and we’ve released results from four surveys over the last 10 days. In tomorrow morning’s SunBurn we’ll roll out the fifth and final poll, looking at the race for Attorney General.

ICYM the Sean Shaw-Moody horse race numbers,I’ll give you some hints:

—It’s tiggggght (duh);

—Medical marijuana is a winner for Shaw, and a loser for Moody.

Just like the three previous St. Pete Polls statewide surveys that we commissioned as part of Wellness Week(s), Floridians strongly support the state’s medical marijuana law, in numbers consistent with the 71 percent it received on the 2016 ballot. Also in line with the previous surveys, people aren’t happy with the Tallahasee status quo when it comes to the application of that law.

By a 42-23 margin, respondents disapproved of the way outgoing AG Pam Bondi has handled medical marijuana during her tenure. Those figures are squarely aligned with the prior results, where we asked if folks approved of Gov. Rick Scott’s handling (nope, by 45-30), and the Legislature’s handling (uh uh, by 48-29) of medical marijuana implementation.

Even in the survey we conducted among Republican primary voters in the uber-conservative 1st Congressional District (held by medical marijuana-supporting Republican, Matt Gaetz), Panhandle Republicans would rather keep the Florida medical marijuana law in place, versus repealing it, by a 53-34 margin.

DeSantis, Moody and Caldwell are simply out of step with the electorate on this issue, and all indications are that Democrats are going to continue weaponizing it to their electoral advantage.

We had Bill Nelson over Scott by 0.1 percent, Andrew Gillum over DeSantis by 0.3 percent, and Nikki Fried over Caldwell by 1.8 percent — and the AG race is looking to be another close one.

With a slate of statewide contests this tight, medical marijuana could easily make the difference in any one of them.

Legal battles mount over marijuana licenses

As the values of medical-marijuana operations skyrocket, wrangling over Florida’s limited number of pot licenses continues to escalate.

Five wannabe operators who got shut out of the state’s first round of medical-marijuana licenses three years ago and recently were shot down a second time are asking a judge for help.

But first, Administrative Law Judge G.W. Chisenhall has to settle an even more basic argument: How many licenses are up for grabs?

Florida Department of Health officials maintain only two licenses are available under a 2017 law aimed at implementing a voter-approved constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana. The 2017 law was also intended to curb litigation related to the highly sought-after licenses.

But the rejected applicants contend that, if they meet eligibility requirements under the law, they should get licenses, no matter what the number. The five applicants have filed administrative challenges seeking to overturn health officials’ decisions to deny them licenses.

Meanwhile, another batch of prospective medical-marijuana operators trying to intervene in the challenges believe they’re entitled to two of the licenses, thanks to a citrus-related preference carved into the 2017 law.

Chisenhall deferred a ruling about whether to consolidate the five license challenges and whether to allow intervention by two firms trying to stake a claim to the citrus preference until he decides on the number of licenses at stake.

The “number of medical marijuana treatment center licenses that are still available would likely have a substantial impact on how” the five cases proceed, Chisenhall wrote in a Sept. 7 order.

The administrative law judge gave the petitioners until Friday to submit responses “addressing the Department of Health’s assertion” that they “are competing for only two available” licenses. He gave the health department until Sept. 21 to file a reply.

The confusion over the number of licenses and who gets them is the latest storm since the inception of Florida’s medical-marijuana industry in 2014, when lawmakers legalized non-euphoric cannabis and authorized five licenses.

A full rollout of the industry — projected to generate more than $1.5 billion in sales by 2020 — has been delayed by legal and administrative challenges, and the already-heavy competition for licenses in one of the nation’s most populous states intensified after voters approved the constitutional amendment nearly two years ago.

The latest challenges were filed by Dewar Nurseries, based in Apopka; Spring Oaks Greenhouses, based in Umatilla; Tree King-Tree Farm, based in New Port Richey; Perkins Nursery, based in LaBelle; and Bill’s Nursery of Homestead. The challenges were spawned by the 2017 law, which ordered health officials to issue 10 new licenses, and by health officials’ response to an administrative law judge’s recent scalding analysis of licensing decisions.

Under the law, health officials were required to issue licenses to applicants who had sought licenses in 2014 and who had legal challenges pending as of January 2017 or who had scored within one point of the highest-ranked applicants in five regions during the first round of licensing. Another license must go to a black farmer who was involved in federal litigation over unfair lending practices.

Also, the law told health officials to give preference for two licenses to applicants who own facilities that were used to process citrus.

The health department has issued seven of the 10 new licenses and must keep one for a black farmer. That means there are only two licenses left, the state argued in numerous filings related to the administrative complaints.

The new challenges followed a blistering June recommended order by Administrative Law Judge John Van Laningham in a case involving Nature’s Way Nursery of Miami, Inc. Van Laningham shredded the department’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use for using a flawed system — which he said created a “dumpster fire” — to decide which applicants were granted the coveted licenses.

Van Laningham said Nature’s Way was eligible for a license under the “one-point” provision in the law, contradicting what he called the state’s faulty scoring method. Although they said they didn’t agree with Van Laningham’s decision, health officials granted Nature’s Way a license in July, prompting the five challenges by applicants whose requests for licenses were subsequently denied. All say they, too, are eligible for a license because they fall within the one-point requirement.

“Perkins Nursery is entitled to a license pursuant to Florida law for the same reasons the department recently issued a license to Nature’s Way Nursery. We are not asking for special treatment and are instead asking the department to apply the same standard to Perkins as it did to Nature’s Way,” Jim McKee, a lawyer representing Perkins, told The News Service of Florida.

Adding to the consternation of the rejected applicants, health officials late last month sent notices to the citrus-related entities, indicating there may not be any citrus preferences available for licenses because of the other challenges.

“Anyone with a substantial interest in the remaining two licenses should take appropriate legal action,” Department of Health Chief Legal Counsel Amanda Bush wrote in the Aug. 27 letter.

Lawyers representing Dewar called the notice — which prompted two potential applicants to try to intervene in the five cases — a “highly unusual act.”

In the filings due Friday, the rejected applicants will also to try to convince Chisenhall to ignore the health department’s position that only two licenses are available.

In a Sept. 6 motion, for example, Dewar’s attorneys questioned “whether the department can refuse to license an applicant that fits the statutory requirements if it reaches the purported 10-license cap.” Dewar also asked “whether, if there are only two licenses, all of the challenging parties are competing for them.”

Another component of the 2017 law could make matters even murkier. The law required health officials to issue four additional licenses once the number of eligible patients in a statewide database reached 100,000, a benchmark that was recently surpassed.

The health department has proposed a rule to set up the process for the four new licenses, but the proposed rule has been challenged, which could result in further delays.

The applicants also could try to use the four additional licenses to persuade Chisenhall to reject health officials’ contention that they are limited to issuing just two.

The wrangling over the licenses comes amid international investment in Florida’s burgeoning marijuana industry.

Last month, WilliamBeauWrigley Jr. — an heir to the Wrigley gum fortune — led a $65 million round of funding in Surterra Wellness, one of Florida’s 14 licensed medical marijuana operators.

In a $93 million deal, Toronto-based Scythian Biosciences Corp. announced in July it intends to purchase a company that will take over the grower 3 Boys Farms, which received a license last year after suing the state. The deal also includes purchasing an unnamed “health care organization” as part of Scythian Biosciences’ entry into the booming U.S. cannabis market.

More marijuana dealmaking: Trulieve merging with Canadian company

A Canadian mining concern this week said it had finalized a deal to merge with Trulieve, a Florida medical marijuana provider.

Toronto-based Schyan Exploration Inc. will combine with Trulieve Inc. to become Trulieve Cannabis Corp. It will trade stock publicly in Canada. The agreement was announced Tuesday.

The closing date for the transaction is expected to be “on or around” next Friday, a press release said. The full financial terms were not disclosed.

It’s the latest big deal in the state’s now go-go medicinal cannabis market, seen as a potential multibillion-dollar industry by investors.

Most recently, MedMen Enterprises Inc. of Los Angeles, the country’s biggest medical marijuana provider, last Friday said it closed a $53 million deal to buy a medical marijuana treatment center license and “related assets” from Central Florida’s Treadwell Nursery.

Also, Cannabis Cures Investments (CannCure) agreed to buy a 60 percent interest in 3 Boys Farm of Ruskin, with the closing expected in mid-August. CannCure is owned by Namaste Gorgie, one of South Florida yoga entrepreneur Cathy DeFrancesco‘s companies.

Soon, Toronto-based Scythian Biosciences Corp. announced it was buying CannCure and renaming itself Sol Global Investments Corp., with that deal expected to close Oct. 15, pending regulatory approval.

And last month, medical marijuana company Surterra Wellness closed another round of equity fundraising to allow it to build out “substantial cultivation space in Florida.” It also inked a deal to partner with musician and entrepreneur Jimmy Buffett on a new marijuana brand called “Coral Reefer,” named after his longtime back-up band.

Trulieve has one of 14 “medical marijuana treatment center” (MMTC) licenses in the state, according to the Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use. Florida has a vertically-integrated market, meaning the same provider grows, processes and sells its own marijuana. 

The new company’s CEO and board chairman will be Kim Rivers, now the head of Trulieve Inc.

New directors include George Hackney of Gadsden County’s Hackney Nursery (which also does business as Trulieve), and Thad Beshears, co-owner and chief operating officer of Jefferson County’s Simpson Nurseries and brother of state Rep. Halsey Beshears, a Monticello Republican. Simpson Nurseries is the Beshears family business. 

Still pending is Trulieve’s legal challenge against the state over how many retail stores it can open, and where, under current law. Its website currently lists 17 retail locations and a call center.

A bench trial was held last month; Circuit Judge Karen Gievers of Tallahassee has yet to render a decision, court records show.

A copy of the Schyan-Trulieve merger agreement is below.

For Nikki Fried and Sean Shaw, smokable medical cannabis could be a winning issue

As the Florida Democrats work to flip Florida’s government from red to blue, there are strong indications that green may be the color of change agency.

In light of reports that Gov. Rick Scott has spent $2.1 million in legal defenses of his administration’s position that the over 100,000 medical marijuana patients in the state shouldn’t have access to smokable cannabis, Agriculture Commissioner hopeful Nikki Fried and Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw demand that their Republican opponents take a clear position on whether they would continue the intransigency if elected.

“Governor Scott continues to actively work against the will of the people, using taxpayer dollars to fight against smokeable medical marijuana. Floridians spoke loud and clear in 2016, and they have a constitutionally enshrined right to access smokeable medical marijuana,” asserted Fried.

“Floridians also have a right to know, will Ron DeSantis, running for our state’s highest office, continue this fight against the will of the people? And does my opponent, Matt Caldwell, support this waste of taxpayer dollars, against the choice of Floridians? As your Commissioner of Agriculture, we will ensure that patients have complete access to medical marijuana, just as the people intended,” Fried added.

Fried’s opponent, Rep. Matt Caldwell, shares Gov. Scott’s smoke-free interpretation of the legislation, he told POLITICO Florida.

“The Florida Constitution clearly leaves the decision regarding medicinal cannabis to the Legislature. More importantly, smoking is not a medicinal delivery system; for example, doctors don’t prescribe smoking opium instead of prescribing codeine,” Caldwell said. “This lawsuit is just a fig leaf for full recreational use, which I believe should be left to the voters to decide.”

Caldwell’s position is familiar to those following the position of the Legislature; however, Fried’s bet is that voters have moved on beyond that restrictionist interpretation of Amendment 2, passed in 2016 with a 71 percent mandate.

Like Fried, Shaw believes that the Scott administration’s position on cannabis mirrors other failures.

“The people of Florida spoke clearly in 2016 when they passed a constitutional amendment legalizing medicinal marijuana. Rick Scott’s failure to implement the will of the voters is indicative of his failing administration and inability to effectively manage the state of Florida. Ron DeSantis will be a continuation of the same inaction. Inaction that will not be tolerated after my election,” stated Shaw.

“As Attorney General, I will do what Pam Bondi failed to do and what Ashley Moody won’t do, which is hold the executive and legislative branch of the government accountable. Legal access to smokable Marijuana is the law of the land and my office will enforce the law,” Shaw added.

Republican nominee Ashley Moody was careful in her remarks, also provided to POLITICO.

“After extensive hearings, the legislature, in balancing its responsibility to protect the welfare of Floridians with its mandate to allow for medicinal use of marijuana, enacted law that did not permit the smokable form of marijuana, but made the drug legal for specific purposes. When a defense of state law is justifiable, there exists a duty to defend that law in court and, thus, the litigation to clarify the amendment’s scope is reasonable and not unexpected in light of the significant change to Florida’s drug laws,” Moody said.

Polling shows that Florida voters are with Democrats and reformers on the cannabis issue.

A survey from St. Pete Polls revealed that nearly half of voters support outright legalization of adult-use cannabis (49 to 42 percent), with 74 percent of voters supportive of the medical marijuana legislation on the books.

Almost half of voters, revealed a second St. Pete Polls survey, disapprove of how the law was implemented — without access to raw, smokable versions of the product.

Per the second poll, Caldwell’s position — when voters learned what it was — made 49 percent of those surveyed less likely to vote for him, and 24 percent more likely.

Surterra Wellness teams up with Jimmy Buffett for ‘Coral Reefer’ cannabis brand

From Margaritaville to Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurants and Land Shark Lager, Jimmy Buffett is one of the most merchandised musical acts outside of K.I.S.S. or The Red Rocker.

That trend continues with the announcement of a new partnership with medical marijuana company Surterra, which will be the exclusive vendor of Buffett’s newest creation: Coral Reefer. The name stems from Buffets backing band, “The Coral Reefer Band.”

Starting in Florida in 2019, Parrotheads suffering from Parkinson’s to PTSD will be able to fill their script for MMJ and partake in the inconic star’s preferred strains of medical cannabis.

“Finally, ‘the time has come’, as the Walrus said,” Buffett said. “That ‘time’ being the long overdue recognition of the numerous healing properties of cannabis.

“I have followed and studied with keen intensity, the recent evolvement of the medical marijuana story, and the path towards the simple common-sense conclusion, that cannabis is good medicine, and should be made available to all who need it. I feel that joining with Surterra, in the medical cannabis world, is the right place for Coral Reefer products to be,” he continued.

Surterra recently secured $65 million in “Series C” equity funding thanks to the efforts of William “Beau” Wrigley, Jr., who was the one-time head of the Wrigley Company chewing gum empire but now serves as chairman of the board for Surterra Wellness.

The partnership with Buffett is another success credited to the businessman, who now runs West Palm Beach-based Wychwood Asset Management.

“Jimmy and the Margaritaville team have built premium brands that are widely admired and recognized around the world,” said Wrigley. “They share a long-term commitment to consumers and quality that we espouse at Surterra and together we have the infrastructure and capital to support fast growing, high-quality brands. We are thrilled to be partnering with them.”

Commenting on the changing social views on Cannabis, Wrigley said, “medical marijuana is a wonderful, natural product that helps people all over the world improve their health and well-being”.

Surterra CEO Jake Bergmann said Coral Reefer will roll out to Florida first before it expands to other states.

“This strategic partnership delivers on Surterra’s commitment to quality, integrity and building brands that consumers can trust,” Bergmann said. “Our team at Surterra has established a reputation as thought leaders in this new industry, and our strategy will continue to lead with innovation, building a world-class portfolio of brands and products and expanding our business into multiple state and international markets.”

Surterra currently has 10 dispensaries across the state, from Jacksonville to Miami Beach, and also offers free delivery to medical marijuana patients no matter where they live in the Sunshine State. Surterra also has a license to sell medical marijuana in Texas and has an application pending in Virginia.

Poll: Marijuana legalization support helps Nikki Fried’s Ag. Commish bid

Voters who support Florida’s medical marijuana law and especially those who support further legalization of marijuana appear to be lifting Nikki Fried into the lead in the Florida Agriculture Commissioner’s race, according to a new poll.

Fried, the Democrat, leads among all voters surveyed last week by St. Pete Polls, getting 47 percent of the support of likely Florida voters, while Republican nominee state Rep. Matt Caldwell picked up 45 percent. While that difference was within the poll’s margin of error, follow-up questions indicated at least some of Fried’s backing is tied to her support for broader marijuana legalization.

The poll is part of an effort involving St. Pete Polls, Empowering Wellness — the newly formed medical-marijuana advocacy group — and Florida Politics to examine marijuana policies and political leaders’ and candidates’ positions heading into Wellness Week, which will feature other looks at the issues.

Last week the poll results revealed the nominees for Governor also were essentially tied, with Democratic nominee Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum drawing 48 percent and Republican nominee U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis drawing 47 percent.

This time the results from the poll, taken last Wednesday and Thursday of 2,240 likely Florida general election voters found about 70 percent support the state’s medical marijuana law, approved by voters in the 2016 election. Almost half, 48 percent, disapprove of how the Flordia Legislature implemented the law, while a much smaller percentage, 29 percent, approved of how the Legislature did things.

Consequently, those voters said they have an increased likelihood to support Fried, who has been an advocate of broad marijuana legalization. An even stronger portion of voters said they would be less likely to vote for Caldwell, who has taken mixed positions on medical marijuana.

In 2014, Caldwell helped pass Florida’s initial medical marijuana law, which was limited to low-THC cannabis. He then opposed the state constitutional amendment allowing for medicines to be made from high-THC marijuana. When advised of that, 49 percent of those reached in the survey said they were less likely to vote for him, while 24 percent said they would be more likely.

When told that Fried’s campaign has been kicked out of two different banks because of her advocacy for expanding patient access to medical marijuana, 40 percent of those surveyed said they would be more likely to vote for her, and 36 percent said they would be less likely to vote for her.

The poll was conducted through an automated phone call polling system. The results were then weighted to account for proportional differences between the respondents’ demographics and the demographics of the active general election voter population for the state of Florida. The weighting demographics used were: political party, race, age, gender, and media market. The voters polled were chosen at random within the registered voter population within the state of Florida. Voters who said they were not planning to vote were excluded from the results below.

St. Pete Polls is saying the survey has a 2 percent margin of error.

Charlie Crist, Nikki Fried holding joint call on passing marijuana reform

Following action by multiple banks to close Agriculture Commissioner candidate Nikki Fried’s campaign accounts, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist will file federal legislation to address conflict between federal and state marijuana laws.

Crist and Fried, both Democrats, will hold a joint press call Monday to discuss the “urgent need to reform medical marijuana advocacy at the federal level.”

A release announcing the conference call stressed an overwhelming majority of Florida voters in 2016, more than 71 percent, came out in favor of enshrining legal access to medical cannabis in the state constitution.

Wells Fargo officials this month informed Fried’s campaign it could not maintain accounts with the financial institute because she worked as a lobbyist for the medical marijuana industry and accepted contributions from individuals working in the field.

Friday, news broke another bank, BB&T, shut Fried’s accounts down as well.

A review of Fried’s campaign finances shows donations from Savara Hastings, executive director of the American Medical Marijuana Physicians Association, and Jake Bergmann, CEO for medical marijuana company Surterra Holdings, among others in the industry.

The banks’ actions against Fried’s campaign made national headlines.

When Florida Politics first reported the Wells Fargo news, reporters from Georgia, a state where Republicans like state Rep. Allen Peake led the charge on allowing medical marijuana to be sold, contacted this outlet about the development.

Fried also she heard from officials north of the Florida-Georgia line, and told Florida Politics an increasing number of bipartisan leaders nationwide have come around to supporting medical cannabis. On Friday, she predicted that would lead to federal action.

“In red states that have moved the needle on medical marijuana, those states are seeing their own bank accounts may be jeopardized,” Fried said.

“When it starts to become a personal thing and people realize their own accounts could be closed down, you will start to see some movement in Congress.”

Crist will announce details of his legislation in the conference call today. He also held a roundtable in Largo earlier this month with local veterans groups and marijuana industry leaders, then sponsored legislation aimed to protect veterans from being fired from federal jobs for using marijuana as medical treatment.

“Medical marijuana is an issue of compassion,” Crist said, “and in the veterans’ community, access is even more important as more and more veterans are turning to cannabis to address chronic pain and PTSD.”

Fried said in many conservative areas, politicians ultimately were swayed on support for cannabis because of its effectiveness in treating first responders and others who suffer trauma.

Done deal: Medical marijuana’s MedMen closes on Florida acquisition

MedMen Enterprises Inc. of Los Angeles, the country’s biggest medical marijuana provider, on Friday said it had closed a deal to buy a medical marijuana treatment center license and “related assets” from Central Florida’s Treadwell Nursery.

The $53 million deal, first announced in June, includes “prime retail locations with long term leases in Ft. Lauderdale, Miami Beach, West Palm Beach, St. Petersburg and Key West,” the company said in a news release. 

“The state has high tourist activity and is home to the largest elderly community in the nation,” the release said. “According to Arcview, medical cannabis sales are estimated to be approximately $1.4 billion by 2021.”

“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.”

The license allows MedMen “to open 30 (and up to 35, if certain conditions are met)” medical marijuana retail locations in the state, and it also now has Treadwell’s cultivation facility on five acres near Orlando.  

Florida has a vertically-integrated market, meaning the same provider grows, processes and sells its own marijuana.

On Friday, MedMen stock (MMEN), which trades on the Canadian Securities Exchange, closed at $5.40 a share, down from $6.02 the previous day. Its 52-week high is $7.15.

MedMen has operations in California, Nevada and New York, which employ over 800 people and “combined account for nearly half of North America’s addressable legal market,” the company’s website says.

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