• Atlanta company selling two Florida licenses to cultivate, sell marijuana

    By: Christopher Heath

    Updated:

    It’s an investment, if you’ve got $95 million to invest.

    Atlanta-based Blue Dream Industries is selling two Florida licenses to grow, cultivate and sell medical marijuana.

    Florida, under current law, uses what is known as vertical integration for medical marijuana. Under this system, a license-holder is responsible for the product from growth to sale. It’s a system that some lawmakers say drives up prices for patients and discourages competition.

    READ MORE: Medical marijuana patients say the state is standing in the way of lower prices

    “It really has evolved to become a monopoly structure,” said State Rep. Anna Eskamani (D–Orlando). “The current system we have does really restrict choice for consumers and our biggest medical cannabis companies own the bulk of the market.”

    Currently, six marijuana businesses operate 120 of the state’s 142 dispensaries, with those six controlling 85% of the market.

    “Small business play no role in the medical cannabis business in Florida, and that is by design,” says State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D–Orlando). “Lawmakers wrote that into the implementing legislation so that we turned our medical cannabis business in the state into something like a cartel.”

    READ MORE: Cash only: What's standing in the way of Florida's medical marijuana patients

    Eskamani and Smith say the tight control and vertical integration model hurts patients by limiting competition and driving up prices.

    While lawmakers could act to open the market, the change may instead be handled in the courts, with the Florida Supreme Court slated to receive briefs on a case dealing with vertical integration in November.  

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