marijuana

Q-Poll: Floridians high on getting high

pot exclamation pointFlorida voters are at an all-time high for allowing grown-ups to have small amounts of weed for personal use, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released today.

The poll found 65 percent of voters statewide support legalizing small quantities for adult use, while 30 percent disapprove.

Republicans, however, aren’t as keen on green: They’re split 48-48 percent, according to the poll results.

Meanwhile, more than three-quarters of Dems — 78 percent — back the bud, showing that the partisan divide isn’t limited to guns.

The survey also found voters support the sale of legal marijuana in their community by a 61-34 percent margin.

Here’s the crosstabs:

18. Do you support or oppose allowing adults in Florida to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use?

                                                               WHITE......
                                                               COLLEGE DEG
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Yes    No
 
Support              65%    48%    78%    72%    69%    62%    64%    68%
Oppose               30     48     19     24     28     32     30     28
DK/NA                 5      4      3      5      3      6      6      4
 
                     AGE IN YRS..............    WHITE.....
                     18-34  35-49  50-64  65+    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk    Hsp
 
Support              89%    70%    63%    52%    71%    61%    66%    66%    68%
Oppose               10     24     34     40     26     32     29     30     30
DK/NA                 1      5      3      8      3      6      5      4      2
 
 

19. Would you support or oppose the sale of legal marijuana in your community?

                                                               WHITE......
                                                               COLLEGE DEG
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Yes    No
 
Support              61%    46%    74%    66%    63%    60%    63%    64%
Oppose               34     50     23     29     33     35     33     31
DK/NA                 4      4      2      5      4      4      3      5
 
                     AGE IN YRS..............    WHITE.....
                     18-34  35-49  50-64  65+    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk    Hsp
 
Support              83%    64%    60%    50%    65%    62%    64%    53%    65%
Oppose               17     28     35     45     30     34     32     44     32
DK/NA                 1      8      5      4      5      3      4      3      3
 

 

The poll of 1,279 Florida voters was conducted from June 12 – 17, with a margin of error of +/- 3.3 percentage points, including the design effect.

Gainesville Green goes legit. Plus dope swag

IMG_B049DF48B479-1Hey, who doesn’t want some dope swag, while helping efforts to legalize pot in the Sunshine State?

Those of us who grew up in Florida remember Gainesville Green from back in the day.

The sticky, smelly, smooth-burning weed was renowned for its ass-kicking properties.

Now, the infamous Florida grow is making a splash on the legal market, in conjunction with the state’s largest medical marijuana operator, Trulieve, and partner, Sunshine Cannabis.

The press release announcing its introduction into the medical pot arena reads more like a come-on from High Times than something you’d pick up in your doctor’s office, but, we repeat, who doesn’t want some dope swag? And who doesn’t want to help legalize it in Florida?

Don’t Miss this EVENT! Today from 12pm-4pm in Gainesville Florida at the Heartwood Soundstage we are officially launching Gainesville Green, the most legendary strain from the state of Florida, with the creator of the strain Rick Naya.  This is Truly a historic moment for the Sunshine State, as we bring back the state’s most legendary strain to the legal medical marijuana market.  Tomorrow’s event is not to be missed, we have a bunch of dope swag exclusively made just for this event.  We will be giving away some more recommendations as part of our Sunshine Compassion program.

Some of the proceeds from yesterday’s event went to legalization efforts, according to the release:

Sunshine Cannabis is a Florida first brand committed to YOUR RIGHT to GROW YOUR OWN. Our company was founded with a mission to free the plant and free the seed. This is why we have made an indefinite and ongoing commitment to donating a minimum of 10% of all company proceeds to the Regulate Florida ballot initative to legalize cannabis in the Sunshine State for all adults and give businesses a fair opportunity in Florida. In an ongoing effort to solidify our commitment to Florida we have decided to DOUBLE DOWN on the amount we donate from the proceeds of Gainesville Green sales to Regulate Florida. This is an ongoing and indefinite commitment that will only end WHEN YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO GROW YOUR OWN! #SunshineFam we love you and are working day and night to help increase access to the patients of Florida. Help us free the plant in Florida and Vaporize to Legalize the Sunshine State.

 

Weed that boosted Obama from Waikiki to White House coming to Florida soon?

originalChoom may or may  not be opening up in the Sunshine State anytime soon, but these guys get some points for chutzpah if for nothing else.

Canada-based Choom Holdings Inc. makes much of its connection to former President Barack Obama, but more about that later.

Choom, whose CEO is named “Chris Bogart” (we kid you not), announced Monday it intends to enter Florida’s medical marijuana market, as part of its “strategy to become a multi-state operator,” through its wholly owned subsidiary, Choom USA Holdings Inc.

Choom, which trades on the Canadian Stock Exchange, signed a letter of intent to purchase a 95% equity interest in “a Florida-based vertically-integrated cannabis applicant,” according to a press release.

The release doesn’t identify the name of the “applicant,” which is clearly not one of the state’s 14 licensed medical marijuana treatment centers, or the amount of the transaction.

The Florida company “is progressing on its Master License application to operate up to 25 retail locations with potential for more as the number of registered patients increase, as well as, a micro-processing and cultivation facility for medical purposes,” the release says.

It goes on:

Upon completing the transaction, Choom will use its medical brand, Clarity Medical Centres, to create a network of branded Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers.  Florida’s medical marijuana program has over 190,000 qualified patients, up from approximately 168,000 at the start of 2019, making it the largest medical marijuana market in the United States.  Florida has recently allowed the use of smokable medical marijuana products, potentially opening the program to a considerably larger audience.

“We are very excited to be expanding into Florida and to bring Choom’s medical brand into that market.  Florida’s medical marijuana program is a very attractive opportunity for us seeing that it allows for vertically-integrated operations and it has been a market we’ve had our sights on for a while now.” states Chris Bogart, President & CEO of Choom. “This investment aligns with our strategy of becoming a multi-state operator in the US and helps us to bolster our growth targets. Florida is home to over 21 million residents and has shown impressive year over year growth on the number of registered patients with a large portion of the market being relatively uncaptured.”

Now for the Obama bit:

The company’s website boasts that the onetime president was an integral member of the “Choom Gang” back in Honolulu, where he graduated from high school in 1979.

Obama was part of a group of buddies who “loved to choom the pakalolo,” or smoke weed, according to the website:

Not only was Obama a member of the Choom Gang, he was the group’s trendsetter—coining a number of their toking terms and protocols, including “roof hits” (the practice of sucking every last whiff of smoke lingering by the roof after hot-boxing a car), “total absorption” (holding in one’s hit for as long as possible, or suffering a one-toke penalty for premature exhalation), and the infamous “interception,” where he’d break rotation to steal an extra hit. In fact, Obama even thanked The Choom Gang “for all the good times” in his high school yearbook!

But here’s our favorite part:

“Yes, that same sweet, sticky sensimilla that led Obama from Waikiki to the White House will be coming to a Choom™ store near you.”

Choom’s pitch veers from the less flamboyant advertising for medical pot, but, hey, they’re hitching their star to a president who also happens to be a super-cool cultural icon.

Choom may claim to be all about “cultivating good times with good friends,” but one Florida cannabis industry expert isn’t buying their come-on.

“It doesn’t appear the subject of this press release involves acquiring an actual asset,” our pro told us. “It appears to be pure speculation in an attempt to bolster their stock.”

 

Wake and bake: Florida college doing cannabis prep

Pot exclamation point!With Florida medical pot sales topping $3 billion last year, at least one state college is unrolling a suite of courses to help students cash in on the Sunshine State’s green wave.

Starting this fall, Miami Dade Colleg’s north campus will offer three classes that will eventually become part of a Cannabis Industry Science Specialist credit certificate program, according to a press release issued by MDC Wednesday.

The program is “currently being developed by a team of dedicated faculty from MDC’s School of Science and the School of Justice,” the release states.

Here’s the rest of the blurb:

The new courses include Biology of Cannabis, Chemistry of Cannabis, and Florida Cannabis Policy and Regulation. Students will learn the biology of cannabis plants, metabolites and physiology of cannabis plants, as well as the current laws, policies and regulations of the medical marijuana industry. In addition, a speaker series will present nationally-established experts in the field to educate the public and guide the understanding of the scientific foundations, the essence and potential of this industry.

The cannabis industry is booming and companies are opening new positions throughout the United States as medical marijuana is now legalized in more than 30 states. There are currently more than 230,000 individuals employed by the legal cannabis industry. According to a report from Arcview Market Research, that number is expected to nearly double by 2021. Florida grew its cannabis employment by 703% in 2018, adding more than 9,000 full-time jobs, a Leafly report states.

Glassdoor indicates salaries range from $22,000 for medicinal marijuana delivery drivers to $215,000 for individuals with medical and/or legal expertise. The median salary is $58,511, which is 10.7% higher than the average job in the U.S. Those positions require comprehensive knowledge of the various aspects of the industry, an in-depth understanding of medicinal properties and varieties of marijuana plants and products, as well as the emerging legal aspects and laws of each state.

“With its alignment of existing academic programs and the established reputation of excellence at the School of Science and the School of Justice, MDC’s North Campus is uniquely poised to be the very first in the Florida State College system to offer a certificate program in Cannabis Industry Science Specialist,” said Dr. Malou C. Harrison, President of MDC’s North and Interamerican Campuses. “The certificate will offer a rigorous sequence of introductory courses designed to equip students with the foundation and scientific knowledge to thrive in this emerging field and job market.”

#Nosmokeisajoke: Florida laughing stock over MMJ smoking ban

Pot exclamation point!.pngLawyer Michael Minardi, the general counsel for Florida NORML unloaded on a Florida House committee yesterday over the state’s ban on smoking medical marijuana.

Minardi, whose website proclaims he’s “The Gold Standard of the Green Industry,” joined other MMJ smoke proponents to shake the Florida House Health and Human Services Committee into axing the prohibition.

Before hearing from the advocates, committee Chairman Ray Rodrigues made a significant concession by stripping a provision that would have required docs to get approval from a “case review panel” before they could order smokable marijuana for patients.

The House plan now would restrict patients to buying pre-rolled joints with filters from licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. The advocates aren’t crazy about that provision, but hey, they can always rip off the filters and stuff the weed into a bong or whatev once they get it home, per Ray Rod.

Minardi told the committee that smoke is the number one choice for patients in other states where medical marijuana is legal. (It’s much cheaper than tinctures or vape oils). The committee also heard from patients who admitted they’re smoking weed so they can benefit from the “entourage effect” you can only get from whole flower.

“Patients are going to continue to use flower whether or not you do this (legalize smoking) or not. They’re going to either get it from the black market, as they already are, because they know it’s what works for them. Every other state in this country is laughing at us, saying that we gave our patients tinctures, and we have wax and shatter on the shelves, and not flower,” Minardi said.

“Do you understand the impact of that and how ironic that is? You’re giving them the hard stuff, but not letting them have the beer but take a shot of tequila. That’s what that’s equivalent to,” he went on.

We’re pretty sure that most of the members of the committee have no clue what “wax” or “shatter” is, but who hasn’t had a Dos Equis followed by a shot of Cuervo Gold?

Lawmakers are taking the wrong approach with filters, if they’re concerned about screening toxins out of joints, according to Minardi.

“A bong hit is the best way to do that,” he advised.

The pre-rolled, filtered MMJ “cigarettes” are sure to be a negotiation point between the House and Senate as they try to meet Gov. Ron DeSantis’ March 15 deadline to nix the smoking ban.

Sen. Jeff Brandes’ proposal, approved by the Innovation, Infrastructure and Technology Committee yesterday afternoon, doesn’t have any restrictions on whole flower sold at dispensaries, and would allow patients to buy equipment at smoke shops.

The buy-your-bong-at-a-bong-shop provision will likely be another item on the negotiation table.

The Florida connection to that Super Bowl-banned weed ad and a $63 million pot deal

img_1116CBS generated a lot of buzz by just saying no to a Super Bowl ad trumpeting the benefits of medical marijuana, and of course, #BecauseFlorida, there’s a connection to the Sunshine State.

Acreage Holdings, the Canadian-based MMJ company backed by former Speaker of the House John Boehner, was willing to pay $5 million for a 60-second ad, according to reports. But CBS put the ixnay on the spot.

But the Super Bowl kerfuffle isn’t the only news Acreage made this month.

Acreage Holdings paid $63 million — in CASH $$$$ — to acquire Nature’s Way Nursery of Miami, Inc., also known as Green Owl Pharms, according to a press release issued by the company.

“The combination of policy and demographics in Florida makes it one of the largest growth cannabis markets in the U.S. and we could not be more pleased to close this deal,” said Kevin Murphy, Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of Acreage.  With the fourth largest population in the U.S., Florida is expected to quickly become the fifth largest cannabis market with an estimated $1.1 billion in retail cannabis sales by 2022, according to Arcview Market Research.

It’s worth noting that Green Owl hasn’t started selling anything yet, and according to the latest update from OMMU, hasn’t even started cultivating cannabis.

Nature’s Way sued the state failing to get a license way back when from what’s now the Office of Medical Marijuana Use. But, after an administrative law judge scorched the state for using a flawed system to decide which applicants were granted the coveted licenses, the Department of Health settled with Nature’s Way in July and granted them a license.

More from the Jan. 4 press release announcing Acreage — whose legal team includes Florida regulatory whiz John Lockwood — had closed on the Nature’s Way deal:

Acreage paid the shareholders of Nature’s Way $67 million plus assumption of certain transaction expenses of the sellers, with $63 million payable in cash, of which $10 million had previously been escrowed in November at the time the parties signed the definitive transaction agreement.  The remaining $4 million in consideration will be paid in units of a subsidiary of Acreage, High Street Capital Partners, LLC.  The units are exchangeable for Subordinate Voting Shares of Acreage at the election of the holder.

Nature’s Way holds a vertically integrated operating license to operate a cultivation and processing facility as well as up to 30 medical cannabis dispensaries, which Acreage anticipates will carry The Botanist retail banner and soon-to-launch cannabis products. Acreage anticipates that it will invest significant financial capital throughout Florida to build out its cultivation and retail operations.

Acreage already operates in more than a dozen states, including Colorado, California and Massachusetts, according to the company’s website.

The pot license sales keep coming, despite a decided shift in attitude toward MMJ from new Gov. Ron DeSantis, who quickly made separated himself from his predecessor, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott. DeSantis blamed lawmakers for creating “cartels” through the state’s current vertical-integration system, and has given them until mid-March to do away with a ban on smoking medical marijuana.

 

 

Legal eagle Lombard splits with Vezina, joins Radey

Big news for administrative law geeks in and around the capitol city: Ed Lombard has said bye-bye to his old firm, Vezina, Lawrence & Piscitelli, and joined forces with APA powerhouse Radey.

eduardo-lombard-2019-190x250The move by Lombard, who worked at VLP for more than a decade, now links him with Donna Blanton, a onetime journo who’s known throughout state government as one of the city’s top lawyers when it comes to all things DOAH.

Even those who aren’t DOAH dweebs might be familiar with Lombard: He represented the state Department of Health in numerous administrative challenges related to medical marijuana licenses and rules.

In a recent chat, Blanton gushed about Lombard, calling him “a rock star.”

“I am so happy he joined our firm. I’ve litigated with him and against him probably for ten years or more, on the same side and on the opposite side,” Blanton told us. “He’s one of the best administrative litigators in Tallahassee, if not the best. We are extremely fortunate to have him join us. He’s just really, really good.”

For his part, Lombard said he’s “extremely happy” to join Radey.

“This group has a very strong regulatory and governmental practice, and that matches very well with my emphasis on governmental and administrative litigation and procurements, too. So I think adding my experience here will help us as a group to continue focusing on trying to be a premiere Tallahassee firm for regulated industries,” he said.

Lombard earned a rep as a bulldog during his many clashes with lawyers representing would-be marijuana operators at the Division of Administrative Hearings skirmishes.

And it looks as though the health department will be traveling with Lombard to his new digs.

According to the Transparency Florida website, the state signed three contracts with Radey on Jan. 9, hiring the firm to represent the health department in two MMJ-related matters and a non-pot bid dispute over office rental space.

One contract — for $200,000 — is for legal representation in regard to OMMU. A $100,000 contract with Radey is for representation regarding seed to sale.

Another $100,000 contract is for a bid dispute with Tallahassee Corporate Center, LLC.

Blanton, meanwhile, has dropped her MMJ clients. On January 11, regulatory law superstar John Lockwood — who’s hired onetime Florida pot czar Christian Bax — filed a motion to take Blanton’s place representing Nature’s Way Nursery of Miami, Inc., at the 1st District Court of Appeal.

What will come of the current medical marijuana litigation — and there are more than a dozen lawsuits hanging out there — remains a mystery.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has done a U-turn when it comes to pot policy. He’s told the Legislature to drop the state’s ban on smoking medical marijuana, and he bashed the vertical integration system that requires pot purveyors to grow, process and sell marijuana products. The new governor also indicated he wants more MMJ licenses.

Appearing with #PotDaddy John Morgan and Congressman Matt Gaetz last week (let’s ask him if he wants to be called #PotDaddy2), DeSantis said he doesn’t believe the Republican-dominated Legislature properly implemented the constitutional amendment, largely bankrolled by Orlando trial lawyer Morgan, that broadly legalized medical marijuana.

“Look, we’ve got a lot of fish to fry in Florida. The last thing I want to be doing is cleaning up for something that should have happened two years ago. This thing should have been implemented. We should have moved on. I don’t want to continue fighting some of these old battles,” DeSantis said.