This publication has always been on the forefront of what’s happening in the Florida medical marijuana industry and our team has uncovered a “Motion to Intervene” filed on behalf of Surterra Wellness. We were first to cover Trulieve filing a lawsuit against the Florida Department of Health to increase patient access and the news was met with mass appeal from patients, advocates, Florida medical marijuana doctors, entrepreneurs, and all other good compassionate humans that want to see an end to suffering.
Unfortunately not everyone was happy with the fact that Trulieve filed a lawsuit to increase patient access, namely Surterra. Read the full copy of the motion filed here.
Currently the dispensary cap sits at 25 and will automatically increase to 30 by 4/20/18 when the patient count reaches 100,000. What most people don’t understand is the dispensary allotment is spread up across 5 regions of the state. These regions are assigned a certain number of stores from that allotment according to the 2016 census. What does this mean? This means that heavily populated areas have a much higher allotment of stores than the rural areas. This means that the most underserved areas of the Sunshine State will continue to be underserved in the name of preserving market share.
Not once in the motion supporting the Department of Health does Surterra mention the word patient or access. That’s because they want to limit access to remain competitive. It is no surprise that Surterra is falling far behind. This has been apparent to anyone following the medical marijuana industry in Florida since they first lobbied to have a dispensary cap set at 3.
How does this impact patient access? The best example we have to go by is using Trulieve. They currently have 13 stores opened and another 17 planned to open. Trulieve currently has two stores in the NE region of Florida which covers the panhandle and Tallahassee. Due to the way the dispensary cap is construed, they are prohibited from opening anymore stores in the NE region because of how sparsely populated it is. The sick irony of this is the rural areas need access to Florida medical marijuana the most. Rural areas have been devastated by the opioid crises and medical marijuana has proved to be one of the only things putting a dent in it.
The way the dispensary cap is structured forces companies to put stores where the Florida Department of Health says they can. Despite mounting pressure from rural areas it is impossible for patients to be adequately served without Trulieve’s lawsuit prevailing in court. So far Florida has been plagued by companies fighting the advance of products, and growth of the program. Surterra was the main force behind the dispensary cap that patients are currently being forced to suffer under, and they are continuing to fight against patient access to MMJ in Florida.
There is only one reason that a company would want a cap on dispensaries and that’s because it is afraid it will not be able to compete if better companies are allowed to open additional stores. This is all about the money, and nothing else. Surterra is losing ground rapidly in the Sunshine State and trying to do anything to keep up. These types of maneuvers cause unjust harm and suffering to patients that will be forced to wait or go without medicine. The actions of Trulieve and Surterra Wellness are polar opposites of each other. Trulieve is suing the State so it can open up stores in rural areas and increase patient access, and allow ALL of its competitors to do the same. Surterra Wellness is supporting the Florida Department of Health to restrict companies ability to open in rural areas and other areas prohibited by the dispensary cap.
This is a textbook case of someone cutting off their hand to spite their face. Surttera is willing to limit its own businesses ability to serve patients if it means it can slow down the industry leaders in the process. Meanwhile patients are still waiting months to get their card and driving hours and hours to the nearest dispensary to fill their order after figuring out how to get a Florida MMJ recommendation.
Surterra’s reasoning for supporting the dispensary cap and not increasing patient access is”
“If the MMTC cap is struck down, the effects of that decision will be felt throughout the Florida medical marijuana industry. Surterra submits that the cap is proper and should be preserved.”
When reading this line from the “Motion to Intervene” it should be noted the words used,
“Florida medical marijuana industry”
The company is talking about the “industry”, meaning its business. What could possibly happen bad with increased patient access from more stores opening? Oh that’s right, Surterra may lose more market share. This is a similar reasoning used by when Aphria intervened in Trulieve’s vapable flower product. There is no mentioning of patients, or how this affects patient access, just the fact that it would have effects felt throughout the medical marijuana industry. The Department of Health is not tasked with putting a governor on MMTC’s so others can compete, especially when it comes at the cost of patients.
Patients in the Florida medical marijuana program have been fighting politicians and Big Pharma for years but so far the biggest obstacles to access have come from licensed medical marijuana treatment centers. Sources in the State House tell us that Surterra has been actively lobbying to extend the current cap on dispensaries past the original sunset timeframe of 2 years from implementation.