New medical cannabis trade group launches in Florida

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With $2 billion in medical cannabis sales projected this year, Florida is one of the country’s biggest marijuana markets – and that’s true whether or not adult-use legalization appears on the November ballot.

But, regardless of legalization, a new industry trade group plans to lobby for policies favorable to the state’s marijuana sector, representatives told MJBizDaily.

Headed by two former state officials and comprised of the major multistate operators active in Florida – with one notable exception – the Florida Medical Marijuana Trade Association (FMMTA) was formed over concerns about a proposed THC potency cap.

The potency cap was defeated in February, but there are other priorities for the first marijuana industry trade group in the country’s biggest MMJ market.

Those concerns include allowing MMJ patients with recommendations from other states access to Florida dispensaries, said Chris Ferguson, a former director of the state’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use and a vice president at Chicago-based MSO Verano Holdings.

“Millions of tourists come to Florida,” he told MJBizDaily. “We want to give them the opportunity to get their medicine and broaden access to deliver more revenue” to FMMTA members.

The FMMTA said its membership includes six MSOs besides Verano:

  • Ayr Wellness, based in Miami.
  • The Cannabist Co. (formerly Columbia Care), New York.
  • Curaleaf Holdings, New York.
  • Fluent Cannabis, Miami.
  • Green Thumb Industries, Chicago.
  • Surterra Wellness, Atlanta.

The notable MSO absent from the trade group’s ranks is Trulieve Cannabis, the largest operator in Florida, and the main sponsor of the state’s adult-use legalization initiative, Smart & Safe Florida.

It’s still an open question whether voters in Florida, a crucial state in the presidential election, will also vote on marijuana legalization.

The Florida Supreme Court is still weighing a constitutional challenge against the campaign, though Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said in January he expects the measure to make the ballot.

Also absent from the FMMTA is Chicago-based MSO Cresco Labs, which operates 33 dispensaries in Florida under the Sunnyside brand.

In addition to its lobbying efforts, the trade group wants to dispel lingering “misinformation” about cannabis, said Dr. Shamarial Roberson, a former deputy secretary of health in Florida and the FMMTA’s executive director.

“Some people don’t understand qualifying conditions,” she said. “Some people think use is unlawful since we don’t have recreational.”

Should the state legalize adult use and the federal government reschedule marijuana, Florida is poised to make strides in marijuana research, Roberson added.