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Pot Operator Gets OK For More Storefronts

Cannabis plant
Wikimedia Commons
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

State health officials have agreed to allow a second Florida medical marijuana operator to exceed a statutory limit on storefronts. 

The cap on dispensaries, now set at 35 for each operator, was included in a 2017 state law carrying out a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana in Florida. Health officials on Monday agreed to allow Alpha Foliage, which operates as Surterra, to open six more dispensaries.

The company sued after the Department of Health allowed a competitor, Trulieve, to exceed the statutory cap. Surterra attorneys asked the state to interpret the law consistent with the way it did for Trulieve.

The 2017 law “operates prospectively and not retroactively,” health officials wrote Monday in Surterra’s final order. “Therefore, the initial six approved dispensary locations are considered to be grandfathered under this section,” Michelle Tallent, the health department’s deputy secretary for operations, wrote.

Surterra operates 26 locations statewide and has additional locations pending approval. Trulieve successfully sued the state in Leon County circuit court arguing that the restriction on the number of treatment centers “arbitrarily impairs product availability and safety” and “unfairly penalizes” pot providers.