The Florida medical marijuana market is on fire.
The state, according to a report from industry cannabis information and data website Leafly, “hit its stride in 2019,” posting year-over-year sales growth. The boost was aided, the report says, by Florida “finally allowing” its more than 300,000 registered patients to purchase smokable flower. By year’s end, dispensaries were selling a total of 19,000 ounces per week. “Florida’s total market value (annual gross sales) now approaches $800 million,” the report states, “which puts it within shouting distance of adult-use retail states like Oregon and Washington.”
Florida also now has 15,598 legal cannabis industry jobs, which ranks it No. 5 nationally. The $10.7 billion nationwide legal cannabis industry supported the equivalent of 243,700 full-time jobs through the beginning of 2020, according to the Leafly analysis. Those jobs are increasing at a rate of 15% per year in the U.S., the study found.
Sarasota-based AltMed Enterprises, which operates the MUV brand of medical cannabis products and retail locations, illustrates the growth in the state. The company has opened 11 locations in the state in 2020, and now has 22 stores 500 employees. It plans to have some 30 stores by the end of the year, and will be closing in on 700 employees. “I really like the position our company is in for continued growth,” says AltMed Director of Corporate Affairs Todd Beckwith.
Beyond demand, one of the key elements of AltMed’s recent growth — and for competitors across the state — is medical cannabis was deemed an essential service during the pandemic. Beckwith says that allowed AltMed Florida to maintain and actually expand its workforce, with additional teams at each of its nine new dispensaries this year. With higher demand for products from 20 dispensaries, AltMed has also generated additional construction employment and staffing with the expansion of its 200,000-square-foot Apollo Beach cultivation facility.
Early on in the pandemic, Beckwith was hearing chatter that medical marijuana might not be essential, which would have caused the firm to go in a different direction. “We went from one pretty dramatic extreme to another,” he tells Coffee Talk. “We thought we might have to lay off hundreds of people, and instead we hired hundreds of part-time people.”
(This story was updated to reflect the correct number of new AltMed locations in Florida.)