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Florida's marijuana market ignites

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It’s been a busy couple of weeks in Florida’s legal weed scene. Governor Ron DeSantis’ push to allow medical patients to smoke some forms of marijuana was officially certified with a speed unusual for almost anything in Tallahassee, and once they got the green light, retailers were moving new products within hours. I was at Art Walk last week, and an old pal proffered what looked like a cigarette, but was actually packed with CBD weed, replete with green filter adorned with a pot leaf. These were made by an independent company out west, but it puts a little shine on the longstanding rumor that Big Tobacco wants in on the reefer market. They’ll probably just wait until it’s decriminalized nationwide.

Like everything that’s legal to consume in this state, the cigarette was almost entirely devoid of THC. Marijuana without THC is like a presidential tweet without slander or typos: It’s fine, but it’s weird. Personally, I think the placebo effect is key to the use of CBD; much of the result is being generated by the subconscious. Once a person is familiar with a certain drug (at least in regard to weed and psychedelics), a certain amount of the original effect can be simulated later just by thinking about it. Kinda like how, as Jaguars fans, any time we win two games in a row, it’s 1999 again.

The prohibition against THC has always been a sticking point with patients and retailers alike. At long last, the state legislature began evolving on that position on March 27. A 12-to-5 party-line vote advanced the debate to cap THC levels at 10 percent for legal supply, far below what can be achieved in today’s market. It is true, the potency of pot has grown almost as fast as the national debt. (You don’t even wanna know.) Average levels have jumped from 10 percent (or less) to upwards of 30 percent, just for whole flower. Various types of oil, wax or shatter range from 50 to 80 percent. Eventually you’ll be able to vape pure THC. (Let’s all hope that happens before the next election, because it’s gonna be a sh*t-show.) Most of the CBD stuff for sale in Florida is less than 1 percent THC, but it won’t be that way for much longer.

There’s no real timetable for this matter, nor any specific agenda at work. It’s more of an intellectual exercise. But the key point is made by retailers: Limiting THC levels limits market share. Fresh chatter from the tax-man only hints at the kinds of numbers in play. The top five states with legal weed–California, Colorado, Oregon, Nevada and Washington–generated more than a billion dollars in tax revenue combined. Florida’s medical market added nearly 10,000 jobs last year, while the number of medical card-holders has broken 200,000, with another quarter-million queued up. As THC levels rise, so will the profits, and that fact will drive the next phase of the debate.

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