Florida judge shoots down state cap on medical marijuana businesses

A Florida judge ruled that the state law restricting the number of medical marijuana businesses runs counter to a voter-approved constitutional amendment, a decision that could have far-reaching implications for the state’s MMJ industry.

The ruling, if sustained, could open up numerous MMJ business opportunities for entrepreneurs if the state ultimately permits an unlimited number of licenses.

Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson declared in his ruling that the license limits violate the MMJ constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2016, according to University of South Florida NPR station WUSF.

MMJ operations are particularly valuable because Florida is a populous state with high market demand. The state issues vertically integrated licenses, with each permit holder allowed to open 25 dispensaries across the state.

However, Dodson also ruled that the 2017 state law implementing the constitutional amendment is flawed because it requires vertical integration. The judge’s ruling was in response to a suit that Tampa-based Florigrown filed against the state.

Dodson stopped short of issuing a temporary injunction, which would have stopped Florida from proceeding with its plan to expand the current number of licenses from 14 to 18. (Florida had issued 13 vertically integrated licenses but granted an additional one recently to resolve a challenge over the scoring process.)

Florida marijuana businesses have been fetching hefty price tags:

  • Scythian Biosciences is poised to enter Florida’s medical cannabis market through an acquisition valued at 136.5 million Canadian dollars ($105 million).
  • MedMen Enterprises has signed a $53 million deal to acquire a Florida-based cultivator and the right to open up to more than two dozen dispensaries across the state.
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