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Florida voters legalized medical marijuana via a ballot measure in 2016, but before the program could go into effect, state lawmakers amended the bill to prohibit dispensaries from selling any product that could be smoked. A years-long legal battle ensued, and in 2018, a state circuit court judge ruled that this ban was unconstitutional. Finally, lawmakers passed a new law last March that officially overturned this ban, and stores began selling flower within days.
Ever since flower sales became legal, demand for smokable pot has steadily increased every single month. Last July, when Florida’s Department of Health began reporting weekly smokable flower sales, state dispensaries sold just over 1,700 pounds of bud. Sales rose to 3,778 pounds by September, and climbed to 5,452 pounds by December. And by December, daily sales were averaging around 180 pounds per day.
Although flower sales have climbed overall, weekly sales remain variable. Sales actually hit their low point in mid-July, with only 590 pounds sold, but hit a new high of about 1,300 pounds a week at the end of December. On average, industry officials estimate that Florida’s licensed dispensaries are now selling $3.5 million to $5 million worth of medical marijuana every week.
In just six months, Florida dispensaries sold over three times more smokable flower than Ohio’s entire medical marijuana industry sold in all of 2019. This difference is likely due to the strength of the Sunshine State’s medical marijuana industry, which currently has over 300,000 patients (1.4 percent of the state population) and 212 dispensaries (one for every 1,415 patients). In contrast, only 0.6 percent of Ohio’s population participates in its medical cannabis program, and there is only one dispensary per 1,700 patients. Ohio also prohibits smokable bud entirely, and its ban has yet to be overturned.
But as strong as Florida’s demand has been, it is far from catching up to the state’s total supply of bud. Between March and September 2019, state dispensaries ordered a whopping 57 tons of smokable flower, but patients only purchased around 11 tons during the last six months of 2019. Sales figures indicate that only 44 percent of the state’s registered patients have been buying smokable buds.
But the fact remains that around 128,000 patients bought 22,000 pounds of weed in six months — that’s nearly 6 pounds per person — which surely indicates that Florida’s medical marijuana market will continue to thrive.