MedMen expands its cannabis retail empire to Florida

MedMen Enterprises, one of the larger cannabis dispensary operations in the US, is zeroing in on Florida as it continues its US expansion.

MedMen, which is based in Los Angeles and operates 35 medical and recreational cannabis stores in the US, opened a 7,550-square-foot medical marijuana dispensary in downtown West Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday.

The store is MedMen’s first in the Sunshine State, but the company has big plans there: Of the 15 dispensaries it’s looking to open this year, 12 are slated for Florida.

“Florida, it’s a very large market,” Nick Hansen, MedMen’s director of governmental affairs for the southeast US region, told CNN Business. “It’s a high focus for us.”

In 2017, Florida began regulated medical marijuana sales in which doctors could authorize or recommend cannabis for patients with certain diseases and ailments.

The state restricted the number of businesses licensed to sell to those patients. MedMen is one of 14 licensed operators in the state, each of which can open up to 35 dispensaries across Florida. The 35-store cap is slated to expire in April 2020.

Florida has taken steps this year to loosen its medical marijuana laws, including allowing for the sale of smokable cannabis and increasing the number of licensed operators by eight. However, not all cities in the state allow cannabis sales, and some that do have regulations that limit where those businesses can and can’t operate.

“It’s about getting into these markets where these patients are,” Hansen said. “They’re clamoring for [choice].”

MedMen also has planted a flag and established a vertically integrated operation in the third-most-populous state. If Florida were to legalize recreational sales, MedMen would be ready to adapt, Hansen said, noting the company’s ability to serve the California market immediately following that state’s allowance of adult-use recreational sales in 2018.

“We would be Day One,” he said. “No doubt.”