The Current Cannabis Laws in Florida
Currently, the only way to obtain marijuana is for medical reasons. You would need to get a doctor’s approval to be able to go to a dispensary and legally purchase marijuana. To qualify for medical marijuana you would have to be diagnosed with at least one of the specified conditions. Conditions like cancer, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and PTSD can qualify you for a medical marijuana card. Currently, the only people that can grow marijuana are marijuana treatment centers. According to Florida statute 381.986, “2. (k) A person who manufactures, distributes, sells, gives, or possesses with the intent to manufacture, distribute, sell, or give marijuana or a marijuana delivery device that he or she holds out to have originated from a licensed medical marijuana treatment center but that is counterfeit commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.”
The Chances of Decriminalization is Higher than Ever Before
In 2016, the first step for legalizing marijuana came into the light when Florida voted for the legalization of medical marijuana. For the upcoming 2020 ballot, there a possibility of a proposal for the legalization of recreational marijuana. The proposal is called the Florida Marijuana Legalization Initiative. If it gets approval, then adults 21 and older can have possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. Currently the amendment is in the stage of receiving signatures but the chance of it making it on the ballot is very high.
The decriminalization of cannabis would mean that there would be no incarceration penalties. This means that you will not get sent to jail or prison for possession. This does not mean there are no more penalties, you can still receive fines or other penalties. If cannabis becomes legalized, then that means there will be no penalties for possession.
Robert Zlatkin, Senior Attorney at the Smith & Eulo Law Firm, a criminal defense firm in Orlando Fl. had this to say “with the recent passing of Florida’s hemp law, there are some interesting new legal questions regarding cannabis. Senate Bill 1020, signed by governor Rick DeSantis on June 25th made the hemp containing less than .3 percent THC legal in Florida. Under this new law, Orlando and Orange County police can now longer justify searches and seizures based on the odor of cannabis alone.”
A Few Big Players Expected to Stand to Grow Exponentially if Cannabis is Legalized)
In one year, Florida opened over 80 medical marijuana dispensaries and average to almost 2 a week. The leading cannabis supplier in Florida is Trulieve. Currently, they have 28 dispensaries all over Florida. The second highest provider is Curalief and has 24 dispensaries. Following after that is Surterra Wellness with 23, Liberty Health Sciences with 13, and Knox Medical with 10. If recreational marijuana becomes legalized then the opportunity of growth increases heavily. They will be able to open more dispensaries across Florida and bring in more products. With technology constantly evolving they will be able to come out with new products to market to their demographics.
Who is for expanding the cannabis industry in Florida?
According to a poll by Quinnipiac University, 65% of Florida voters support the idea of recreational marijuana. With the potential of a recreational marijuana amendment appearing on the 2020 ballot, multiple groups have shown their support. Make It Legal Florida is a new political committee that is pushing for the legalization of recreational marijuana. The group and petition are supported by some of Florida’s leading medical marijuana dispensaries. Regulate Florida is an advocacy group that is also backing the proposal for legalizing marijuana.
Who is against it?
Florida governor Ron Desantis is opposed to the idea of legalizing recreational marijuana despite it’s almost 70% approval rating. In an interview with local 10 news, DeSantis spoke on how the Florida voters voted in medical marijuana. He stated that he’s okay with medical but isn’t fully supportive for recreational. In his interview he states the following. “Now I’m not somebody that thinks having recreational marijuana for young people is good. I think that will make it more difficult for people to succeed. And I think parents right now—it’s very difficult to raise children in the modern technological environment, you’ve got so many different distractions, to throw marijuana into it and make it more prevalent, I think would make it harder for parents. But on the medical side, we’ve got to respect the will of the voters.” One of the biggest misconceptions of marijuana is that it is a gateway drug. This means that using this drug will lead to taking harder drugs like alcohol, cocaine, or heroin. According to the centers for disease control and prevention (CDC), the majority of people that use marijuana do not go on to use “harder” substances. There is not enough research to prove that marijuana use leads to using more and harder drugs.
What are potential opportunities for investors now and in the future
The cannabis industry is growing at a rapid rate and will continue growing in the future. Marijuana use can be seen being represented in movies, shows, and referenced in music by popular artists. Celebrities like Snoop Dog and Miley Cyrus are public advocates for recreational marijuana. Whether it’s for medical or recreational use, the demand will always be there. There is potential for delivery services, app development, and business partnerships. Companies can create products that are combined with marijuana like baked goods or flowers. With the demand for marijuana being so high, only legislative concerns stand in the way of this booming industry.