In a High Times piece, published in 2016, Chris Roberts compared Florida cannabis to a cartel. For a piece written over five years ago, it isn’t far off. Today, the state is jokingly referred to as a cannabis monopoly. The state’s industry seemed to be decided long before the first licensees were applied for; allowing only seven producers and retailers across the entire state. Of course, with the lack of supply comes a hike in demand and price. Keeping the state’s favorites businesses in mind, they’re poised to make millions while others never had a chance. To other states, that’s ludacris. In Florida, it’s simply the way it is.
“This unfortunate (if you’re a consumer) situation hasn’t gone unnoticed by medical marijuana advocates, some of whom are comparing the government-created landscape to a “cartel.” While no massive price gouges have come to pass yet, it’s capitalism 101—corner the market, raise prices and watch yourself become stupendously rich.”-Chris Roberts, HIGH TIMES, Florida Pot Monopoly Compared to a ‘Cartel’
Today, not much has changed. Some outsiders have been able to buy already existing properties. For the most part, however, the state is running in an unorthodox state in hopes to cater to a market of over 20 million people. As one of the first deep-south states to medically legalize cannabis, will Florida have a lasting effect on the surrounding states?
In the most recent turn of events for the state, medical cannabis operator Trulieve closed on a deal. The company is now the largest cannabis retailer in the nation after acquiring Harvest Health & Recreation Inc. for $2.1 billion. The company was a former competitor but, after the acquisition, is part of the state’s largest cannabis company, totaling 149 retail locations across 11 states.
After initial issues with entering the industry and a momentary attempt to thwart most products from shelves, this is Florida’s latest hurdle. Newswise, the state is acquiring properties and making deals. Behind the curtain of haze, however, it smells like a haven for corporate corruption and a growing monopoly.
The local cannabis community is still fighting to equal out the skewed industry. The Florida Supreme Court, unfortunately, stands against nearly every attempt. They claim even a recreational bill would be ‘misleading’ compared to federal law, adding that “voters [sic] into believing that the recreational use of marijuana in Florida will be free of any repercussions, criminal or otherwise.”
This hasn’t been the case or a legitimate concern for any state that has legalized. It makes you wonder what’s really going on in Florida… and should we be worried bordering states will follow suit.