Southern Strategy gets Smoked

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It’s not every day a new, highly regulated industry opens up in Florida. The extremely coveted and limited Medical Marijuana licenses turned into a highly-competitive and litigious process, awash with a hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions.  There’s no surprise to HelloFLA readers that it has devolved into a special interest back-stabbing and insider double dipping food fight in an attempt to monopolize the market.

The News Service of Florida reported yesterday that the sponsor of the Medical Marijuana bill (SB 460), Senator Rob Bradley, said: “The intention of the legislation is to have the five prevailing dispensing organizations to be able to move forward and get their product to market — now. The legislation will also provide that if a losing organization successfully establishes, by a court of law or an administrative judge, that they were entitled to a license, they will also get a license.”

Sounds great! Let’s put product in the hands of patients who have been waiting for years! Too bad it’s special interest spin.

So what’s Bradley talking about?

Rumor is that Costa Farms (and their team at Southern Strategy Group) screwed up their application, and now they’re looking for a special carve out to ensure they get a license no matter what. Process be damned, the well connected are more special than those that waited in line and followed the rules.

Senators are outraged that a bill that was sold as “for the children” is being hijacked by special interests again after already getting the wool pulled over their eyes the first time around with an 11th hour amendment that steered the licenses to a few well connected individuals.

Well placed sources say a majority of Senators would rather kill the bill and let the chips fall where they may.

The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Rules committee on 2/29 after being bumped from the floor calendar, to sort through dozens of amendments.  Spies say that Senators just don’t want to go home in an election year and explain to their constituents why important legislation died because they were debating special interest handouts for marijuana!

“It’s up to the voters now,” said one Senator under condition of confidentiality.