Florida’s Vertical Integration Issue: Biggest Winner and Loser of Last Week in Florida Politics and Cannabis

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EDITOR: Heather Allman

PUBLISHER: CANNABIS LAW REPORT

 

According to Florida Politics and author Joe Henderson, here is a rundown and the final results:

Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida Politics — Week of 5.23.21

May 30, 2021

THE BIGGEST WINNER THIS WEEK IN FLORIDA?

Ron DeSantis:

 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at the Naval Station Headquarters, in Pensacola, Fl., Jan. 22, 2020. (DoD photo by Army Staff Sgt. Nicole Mejia)

 

OK, so his ballyhooed bill to control big tech companies already faces a court challenge it could lose.

Still, it’s good to be the Governor — at least for now.

Friends of Ron DeSantis pulled in more than $5.1 million in May, on top of the $14 million the committee reported in April. If this keeps up, DeSantis will have a massive war chest when the 2022 campaign gets serious.

The Governor’s hand-picked state Supreme Court keeps handing him victories as well.

The latest was Thursday’s ruling that rejected a challenge to the vertical integration framework for medical marijuana.

Why is this a big deal for the Governor?

It is consistent with the Court’s view that state lawmakers should rule on issues like this.

In its ruling, the Court stated, “the Amendment expressly left the Legislature its authority to enact the legislative framework.”

DeSantis seems to get most of what he wants from the Legislature, even when it’s controversial, and seems to skate on thin legal ice.

 

THE BIGGEST LOSER THIS WEEK IN FLORIDA?

 Small-time medical marijuana hopefuls: 

 

Small cannabis dealt a tough blow with Florida’s Supreme Court decision to uphold vertical integration in the state.

 

That Supreme Court ruling we referenced above as a win for the Legislature and DeSantis was also a blow to the little guys.

The Court’s 6-1 decision means the state doesn’t have to change licensing rules for the estimated $1 billion medical marijuana industry. That was considered critical for smaller companies to get a piece of the action.

The state decided in 2017 that only vertically integrated companies could receive a license. Vertical integration means the company owns or controls its suppliers, distributors, and retail locations.

That can be tough for smaller companies to accomplish. That prompted a lawsuit from Tampa-based Florigrown that said the rule stifled competition.

Florida’s current plan calls for domination by a small number of huge multi-state operators. Three operators control about two-thirds of the state’s 22 licenses.

It doesn’t sound like that will change.

“This is a terrible decision for small businesses and minorities. It props up a cartel system. We as Republicans have now created a monopoly for gaming and a cartel system for marijuana,” Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes said.

 

Senator Jeff Brandes (R) – Florida

“Republicans should be for free and open markets. This will harm patients.”

 

(Original article published in FLORIDA POLITICS, May 30, 2021 article by Joe Henderson)

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