Trulieve is a Florida-based cannabis company that has recently made strides to expand its reach into the adult-use market. It first gained attention when it successfully manipulated Florida’s initial licensing process for medical marijuana in 2017, effectively shutting out its competition.
Now, after multiple attempts by different groups to get an adult-use initiative on the ballot, Trulieve has been the first to get the signatures and funding needed.
Their push for adult-use legalization has received mixed reviews from different parties, with some seeing it as a chance to create more opportunities in the industry while others view it as Trulieve attempting to monopolize the market.
Regardless of how people feel about it, it is clear that Trulieve is looking to keep stacking the deck in its favor by only allowing medical companies access to the adult-use market and being the sole funder of the initiative.
Background Information on Trulieve’s Manipulation of the Initial Licensing Process
When Trulieve first obtained its medical marijuana license in 2017, it was through a process that gave them an unfair advantage. The licensing criteria for the initial five licenses were written so that only companies with an operating nursery license of 30 years or more would be eligible. What would a landscape nursery in Florida know about cannabis cultivation, you might ask yourself? Nothing… That’s the point. This was set up as a barrier for anyone, other than a select few, trying to enter the Florida cannabis market.
This essentially shut out any new competitors who wanted to enter the market, as they did not have prior landscape experience. Trulieve, however, had been able to accumulate the necessary documentation to prove they had experience in a nursery operation fitting the description.
Interestingly enough, during the investigation of his Tallahassee City Hall public corruption case, J.T. Burnette (husband to Trulieve’s CEO Kim Rivers) told undercover agents that he had influenced Florida House Rep. Halsey Beshears (R) to insert language into Florida‘s medical cannabis bill containing a controversial barrier to entry “that would benefit both Burnette and the Beshears family,” federal prosecutors said. That license was awarded to Hackney Nursery Company of Tallahassee.
On the witness stand, Burnette distanced himself from the comments, claiming he said what the agents wanted to hear and that they were pushing him to claim responsibility for the 30-year requirement, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.
This manipulation of the licensing process by Trulieve has allowed them to secure a strong foothold in the Florida market and a large amount of political influence. They are attempting to do the same with their push for adult-use legalization in Florida.
By being the sole funder of this initiative and only allowing medical companies access to the adult-use market, Trulieve is looking to further its advantage over any potential competition.
This has not gone unnoticed by some members of the public, as many have voiced their concerns about Trulieve’s attempt to monopolize the industry and shut out any new competitors. As the initiative progresses, the public is eager to see how this plays out for both Trulieve and other cannabis companies.
Attorney General’s Position vs. Smart & Safe Florida/Trulieve
The Attorney General’s office recently weighed in on this issue, as they have voiced their opposition to Smart & Safe Florida/Trulieve’s proposed initiative.
They stated that it would create a monopoly of the medical marijuana industry in Florida by only allowing companies that already have licenses to dispense medical marijuana to be able to access the adult-use market. This would essentially shut out any new competition, as they would not have enough time and resources to gain a license before the initiative goes into effect.
“This carefully curated ballot summary misleads in ways that, though sometimes subtle, are likely to influence voters — and to do so in a way that entrenches the sponsor’s monopolistic stranglehold on the marijuana market to the detriment of Floridians. The initiative should be stricken,” state Solicitor General Henry Whitaker wrote.
The summary that voters would see on the ballot says the proposed amendment “allows adults 21 years or older to possess, purchase, or use marijuana products and marijuana accessories for non-medical personal consumption by smoking, ingestion, or otherwise.”
But the state argued that using the word “allows” is misleading because “the amendment would not actually allow anything; all possession of marijuana would remain unlawful under federal law.”
On the other hand, Smart & Safe Florida disputed this, saying
“It strains credulity well past the breaking point to think that the average voter is unaware that marijuana is illegal at the federal level. That prohibition has been a major subject of national debate for years,” lawyers for the sponsor wrote on July 19.
“We have the deepest respect for our state’s attorney general but feel the brief she submitted misses the mark. The Smart & Safe ballot measure takes a very strict and conservative approach and not only followed the court’s roadmap established in prior rulings but clearly limits the language to a single easy-to-understand subject. As such, we hope the court will stick to the current standards laid out in law and will give Floridians the chance to vote on this ballot item,” the statement said.
Regardless of which side is correct, it is clear that this issue has become increasingly controversial in Florida, as both sides are eager to have their voices heard.
It remains to be seen how this will play out in the future and what it could mean for both established companies and new ones looking to enter the cannabis industry.
What Does This Mean For The Future of The Adult-Use Market in Florida
Trulieve’s push for adult-use legalization in Florida has been met with a mixed reception, as some see it as an attempt by the company to monopolize the industry. In contrast, others view it as an opportunity to create more jobs and open up the market.
Regardless of how people feel about it, it is clear that this could significantly impact the future of the adult-use market in Florida.
If the initiative is successful, it would mean that only medical companies are able to access this market, potentially giving Trulieve an even bigger advantage than it already has.
On the other hand, if the Attorney General’s office and those who oppose this initiative are successful, it would still prohibit adult-use cannabis in Florida, or it could open up the market to new competition with legislation in the future.
Only time will tell how this plays out and how it will impact established companies and those looking to enter the industry. It is clear that this issue has become increasingly controversial in Florida, and the outcome of this push for adult-use legalization could have major implications for the future of the adult-use market in this state.
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