Marijuana in Florida: Five Things You Should Know

Medical marijuana has been legal in Florida since November 8, 2016. According to Marijuana Business Daily, the state has emerged as the second-fastest adopter of medical marijuana. In August 2019, registered medical marijuana patients accounted for 1.6% of the state’s population. Florida also reported an average increase of 609 medical marijuana patients on a daily basis.

In August 2019, state representative Shevrin Jones put forward a bill for the 2020 legislative session that would decriminalize the possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana. Florida is now gearing up not only for decriminalization but also for the legalization of adult-use marijuana by 2020.

Here are five things you need to know about the marijuana industry in Florida.

Medical marijuana is a commercial success in Florida

In its 2019 update of “The State of Legal Marijuana Markets,” Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics estimated legal medical cannabis spending in Florida to be $626.4 million in 2018. The report also forecasts the size of the state’s legal medical cannabis market to be $1.6 billion by 2022.

Marijuana Business Factbook 2019 has estimated medical marijuana sales in Florida to be $225 million–$300 million in 2018. The report expects these sales to rise to $425 million–$525 million in 2019.

The Office of Medical Marijuana Use estimates the number of medical marijuana patients in Florida to be 379,989 in October 2019. Of these, 274,578 patients have an active identification card.

According to Marijuana Business Daily, Trulieve (TCNNF) is the leading player in Florida’s medical marijuana market. On October 30, the company opened its 38th dispensary in Florida.

In the week from August 30 to September 5, Trulieve accounted for 49.2% of the THC/CBD milligrams sold in Florida. Surterra, the second-ranked player in Florida’s medical marijuana market, accounted for only a 13.7% share of THC/CBD sales by milligrams. Curaleaf (CURLF), AltMed Florida, and Liberty Health (LHSIF) accounted for shares of 11.6%, 8.8%, and 4.7%, respectively.

In the week from August 30 to September 5, Trulieve also accounted for a 45.8% share of smokable flower sales in Florida. Here, Liberty Health, Curaleaf, AltMed Florida, and GrowHealthy accounted for shares of 18.1%, 14.4%, 7.6%, and 3.4%, respectively.

Recreational marijuana enjoys popular support

In June 2019, a Quinnipiac University poll showed that 65% of voters surveyed are in favor of marijuana legalization in Florida. A Fabrizio, Lee & Associates poll also claimed that 67% of voters surveyed support marijuana legalization.

An October 2019 poll conducted by the University of North Florida also claimed popular support for marijuana legalization in the state. According to this poll, 64% of voters surveyed support the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state.

Which recreational marijuana legalization initiative is more popular in Florida?

Make It Legal Florida seems to be the most popular of the three ballot initiatives making the rounds for recreational marijuana legalization in the state. The initiatives would first undergo a Florida Supreme Court review to be considered for the November 2020 ballot. This is possible only if the initiative can secure at least 76,632 signatures. Make It Legal Florida and Regulate Florida have already secured more than 100,000 and 89,000 signatures, respectively.

As reported by The Center Square, Make It Legal Florida’s verified signature count was only 17,784 on the DOE (Division of Elections) website on October 24. Regulate Florida’s verified signature count was 91,849 on October 24.

If the Florida Supreme Court approves the language and other legal requirements, the initiative would require 766,200 additional signatures by February 2020. Only then would the initiative find a place on the November 2020 ballot.

Backed by corporate players such as MedMen (MMEN) (MMNFF) and Surterra Wellness, Make It Legal has more resources at its disposal. According to The Center Square, the Make It Legal Florida initiative would allow adults aged 21 years and older to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for personal use. However, the purchase must be from existing and future MMTCs (Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers).

Make It Legal Florida requires marijuana to be sold in childproof packaging. Further, the initiative doesn’t allow advertising marijuana and marijuana-based products to people younger than 21 years.

According to The Center Square, Regulate Florida sponsored the Sensible Florida initiative, which proposes regulating marijuana like alcohol. The initiative would allow people 21 years and older to grow and consume marijuana.

Finally, according to FLAPOL, the Floridians for Freedom initiative would deregulate cannabis. The proposal is the least restrictive of the group and would only ban the sale of marijuana to minors.

Impact of marijuana legalization on Florida’s economy

As Sensible Florida’s verified signature count has surpassed 76,632, Florida’s FIEC (Financial Impact Estimating Committee) has conducted an economic analysis for this initiative. According to The Center Square, FIEC has estimated the worth of Florida’s retail marijuana market to be $2.1 billion.

FIEC expects the retail marijuana market to contribute sales tax revenues of $128 million to the state. Plus, tourists and conventioneers would further bolster legal recreational marijuana sales in the state by $634 million. This is expected to add an additional $38 million to the state’s sales tax revenues.

In addition to tax revenues, FLAPOL reported that FIEC also expects the legal marijuana industry to contribute 55,000 jobs by 2022. Thereafter, the industry could contribute 50,000 jobs per year until 2026. FIEC has also estimated a 0.2% increase in personal income and a 0.32% increase in the state’s GDP and revenues.

For additional information about the impact of marijuana legalization on the state, please read How Marijuana Legalization May Boost Florida’s Economy.

State economists are not confident about FIEC’s analysis

As reported by FLAPOL, Amy Baker, chief legislative economist and head of the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, is not buying FIEC’s projections. She questioned the sales tax assumption, as she believes FIEC hasn’t considered the time lags inherent a nascent industry’s development.

These time lags are associated with the formulation of the regulatory framework. Time lags also occur as a cannabis seed reaches the distribution stage. Plus, time is required for market development, and there can also be unanticipated time delays.

For more marijuana-related news and updates, please visit 420 Investor Daily.