Pot

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.

 

 

Purses and pot in Jax

budJacksonville shoppers with pot issues can pop into a new law office after browsing the racks at Steinmart.
Denver-based Vicente Sederberg LLC, which bills itself as “one of the nation’s leading marijuana law firms,” is opening a office in the Riverside shopping center, according to a press release issued Thursday.
The expansion of Vicente Sederberg — which, according to the release, “guided” one of the state’s five original medical marijuana licensees — in Florida marks a growing pot-focused legal community in what some experts predict will be one of the nation’s largest markets.
From the press release:
“The marijuana policy and business landscapes are evolving quickly in the U.S. and especially in Florida,” said founding partner Brian Vicente. “The expansion of the state’s tightly regulated medical cannabis program is not only fueling demand and supply, but also innovation. Vicente Sederberg has been at the forefront of these developing markets for nearly a decade, advising businesses, guiding policymakers, and building a viable and responsible industry.

“Our new Jacksonville office will allow us to expand our service offerings to our existing Florida clients and develop relationships with the many entrepreneurs and investors seeking opportunities in the state’s burgeoning medical cannabis and hemp industries.”

The Jacksonville office will be headed by Sally Kent Peebles, according to the release.
The opening of the Jax branch comes amid myriad marijuana-related lawsuits, and the announcement followed Tallahassee Judge Karen Gievers’ decision yesterday to allow Joe Redner to grow his own pot so he can juice it to prevent his lung cancer from recurring.
Put this on your calendar: The law firm is sponsoring the “National Cannabis Industry Association’s Quarterly Cannabis Caucus” in Tampa on Tuesday, and will also participate in North East Florida NORML’s 420 on the Beach event in Jacksonville Beach on April 20.

The opposite of buzzkill? More pot workers than dental hygenists

There are more pot workers than dental hygienists or bakers, nationwide, according to Marijuana Business Daily, a marijuana-industry publication.

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Cannabis-related businesses now employ more people than there are dental hygienists and bakers in the United States and will soon surpass the number of telemarketers and pharmacists,” according to the industry mag’s Eli McVey.

The marijuana industry — which could generate up to $20 billion, according to some predictions — is set to explode in Florida, which is gearing up for implementation of the voter-approved constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana for an estimated 400,000-500,000 patients within the next year.

With 29 states — including Florida — having legalized medical marijuana, the industry is now turning efforts to a push for recreational use, now permitted in seven states and the District of Columbia.

On airport marijuana ban, thoughts on traveling with insulin

IMG_2721Patients won’t be able to bring their pot treatment with them when traveling through the Orlando International Airport.

The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Board approved the marijuana ban yesterday.

Click here to watch WFTV‘s report on the ban.

This got me thinking about the problems I encountered traveling in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Airport authorities were extremely nervous about liquids, even in small amounts.

I’ve been an insulin-dependent, Type I diabetic for more than … well, for a long time.

Type-I diabetic, for those who don’t know, means I need insulin to stay alive.

But that didn’t matter to some of the airport folks.

I once was prohibited from traveling with my insulin (which comes in vials or pens clearly marked as medicine).

I scrapped my trip, rather than risk going without my life-saving meds.

After that, I traveled with a notarized letter from my doctor attesting to the fact that these medications were critical.

One of the problems, I learned over the years, was that airport authorities in and out of the state treated my insulin in disparate ways.

Sometimes, they ignored it.

Other times, I was subjected to a super-duper special search after the slim needle on a syringe or insulin pen caught the attention of a security tech, who feared the metal object on her X-ray screen indicated the presence of a bomb. (I’ll save the story about the time my daughter’s teddy bear — with a music box — resulted in an airport bomb squad and dog-sniffing search for another day.)

And on a few occasions, I was forced to explain my medical condition and my treatment while a long line of stocking-footed, impatient travelers piled up behind me.

According to yesterday’s report by the television station, Orlando airport law enforcement officials say they’re not going to go out of their way to sniff out pot travelers.

Further complicating the issue, while Florida law bars patients from smoking “whole flower” — dudes, we call it “bud” — the sale of whole flower for use in vaporizers isn’t prohibited.

After reporting on MMJ for years, I know that marijuana is viewed, like insulin, as a life-saving treatment for some patients. I was inches away from a man who had an epileptic seizure while he awaited his turn to testify before a Senate committee earlier this year. His wife pleaded with attendees for marijuana-based CBD oil, while awaiting emergency personnel. The man, Michael Bowen, serves on the board of the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida.

But, unlike the medicine I’ve been taking for oh-so-long, marijuana remains illegal under federal law, posing a legitimate problem for law enforcement officials at airports and, most certainly, other transportation hubs.

Traveling with insulin within the U.S. has become a lot less problematic for me in the past few years. I don’t even have a letter from my doctor anymore, but an escalation in international terrorist attacks has prompted me to ask her for an updated authorization.

Sen. Rob Bradley, the Fleming Island Republican who’s been instrumental in passing the state’s medical marijuana legislation, calls the era in which dozens of states, including Florida, have legalized MMJ “a brand new world.” (Is he aware of the Aldous Huxley reference to hallucinogens?)

Traveling with treatment is just one part of that brave new world, for patients, law enforcement, and elected officials contemplating new policies.

Senate Health Policy Committee chairwoman looking for “sweet spot” with pot bills

Senate Health Policy Committee Chairwoman Dana Young will hold a workshop to try to reach consensus on how to implement a constitutional amendment, overwhelmingly approved by voters last fall, that legalized medical marijuana for a broad swath of patients.

Young, R-Tampa, told The News Service of Florida Wednesday she intends to hold the workshop during the third week of the legislative session, which kicked off yesterday.

Young said she’s hoping to find the “sweet spot” between patient access and appropriate regulation to use as the basis for the ultimate proposal.

Five separate marijuana measures now are floating in the Senate, including one co-sponsored by Young, and the House released its version of the implementation bill on the opening day of session.

All of the proposals would allow the state’s current pot growers to continue to provide marijuana for the vastly expanded market of patients under the new addition to the constitution.

But the measures also incorporate vastly different approaches, ranging from the number of additional licenses to where dispensaries can be located.

“We will workshop all of the bills that have been filed in the Senate and we will take input from members, try to answer questions and get as much information out to the committee members and to the public on each of the bills,” Young said. “I would anticipate we would put together a committee bill — I don’t have any idea what that would look like —  and probably bring it up the following week.”

Young’s no stranger to controversial and complicated issues; she sponsored a major gambling overhaul a few years ago, but that proposal ultimately failed to pass.

In contrast, lawmakers are intent on passing a measure to implement the constitutional amendment, which nearly 72 percent of voters supported in November.

“It’s sort of like gaming in a different costume,” Young said Wednesday. “But all kidding aside, this is very important. If we don’t do this right and implement this right, our constituents are going to be very angry. And I feel an obligation to do it right, even if I may not love everything, personally, in the bill. We have got to make sure, above all else, that patients have access, wide access. We need to make sure that patients that can appropriately benefit from this medication, that they can get it in an appropriately regulated market. That is the sweet spot. I’ve got to find the sweet spot between patient access and appropriate regulation.”

_ Posted by Dara Kam