Florida is on the cusp of adult recreational use marijuana legalization. Cusp doesn’t begin to describe the sheer potential a recreational marketplace has in the Sunshine State. The state currently has a framework to support the current number of 22 Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTC), expanding their own operations via vertically integrated licensing. The state’s medical marijuana licenses allow current MMTCs to build as much infrastructure as possible to support anticipated recreational demand.
Demand for weed is high (pun intended). As other products enter the market, demand seems to follow. Edibles are the current rage. It seems like just yesterday (or mid-2019) that Senate Bill 182 took effect. SB182 legalized the possession, use, and/or administration of smokable cannabis for medicinal use. Then, in 2020, the state rolled out rules on edible production. Right now, Florida has almost 300 retail locations across the state. Experts predict that will increase to 500 locations by the end of 2022.
Weed is still very much illegal federally, and as a result, cannabis companies cannot ship product across state lines. Because each industry is specific to each state, opportunities for market growth consider a bunch of different factors. One of the most pulse-point factors for the industry is the Total Available Market or TAM. Each TAM is specific to a company’s state. And guess what? Florida has one of the best TAMs in the world. Edible sales are projected to top $250 million by the end of this year. That’s one product offering. One. Boom. Mike drop.
As excitement over recreational use builds, the existing MMTCs and labs have plenty of work cut out for them.
Not only is the state a huge tourist destination, with 150 million visiting annually, it also has a population of more than 20 million, is a well-known retirement haven, and an all-around international crossroad. Not only that, Florida has over 450,000 qualified medical patients (as of December 2020). This demographic of eligible patients grows by 3,000 people . . . every week. No kidding. Just from the medical marijuana perspective, the state boasts, in sales, the largest medical marijuana market in the country.
Florida’s approach is very much unlike programs in other states, where licensing is specialized and focused on regulated industry activities. Right now, each MMTC owns vertically-integrated licenses that let them grow, process, dispense and deliver medical products. Five labs support the third-party testing currently required for medical weed. At first glance, that’s where things are likely to stall out — pending the entrance of new labs onto the scene, of course.
So, what’s on the horizon in Florida, weed-wise? While Regulate Florida and Make it Legal Florida didn’t hit the signature goal required to get a ballot initiative, many industry experts anticipate these initiatives will find a spot on the 2022 ballot. From there, anything — and everything — is possible. Between the grandmas and grandpas needing a toke for their glaucoma or arthritis, to the newlyweds honeymooning with a little edible thrown in to add to the fray, there’s no reason the state’s marijuana industry won’t thrive. Perhaps an unintended result will be proof that alternative regulatory structures are profitable for the bottom line and employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.