There’s a new star in Florida’s medical marijuana industry, and it’s got South Florida connections. This past Wednesday, a company associated with Canadian cannabis operator Aphria and an equity firm Delavaco Group stationed in Fort Lauderdale announced that it has closed on a deal to manage Chestnut Hill Tree Farm, one of seven medical marijuana farmers and distributors in the state.
The deal has been given a green light by the Florida Department of Health.
Under the arrangement, a company operating as Aphria USA will manage the operations of Chestnut Hill Tree Farm, a nursery that does business as CHT Medical. That includes the “cultivation, processing, and dispensing of medical marijuana to patients within the State of Florida” and “the exclusive benefits of the finances from Chestnut’s operation.”
Currently, CHT Medical delivers its medicine to patients. But Aphria plans to significantly increase the size of the company’s operations and establish a network of dispensaries around the state.
“Chestnut is one of a select few licensed producers serving a state with a population over 21 million people,” stated Aphria CEO Vic Neufeld. “It is only the beginning for our plans to be a dominant player in the medical cannabis industry internationally.”
The management agreement allows Delavaco and Aphria to enter into a relatively exclusive market at full force which is on the verge of growing following the November passage of a medical marijuana constitutional amendment. However, it comes at an uncertain time, and amid a flurry of investment and speculation.
The state’s medical marijuana program is about to expand, but as of yet, there are no rules to guide the system, as the Legislature failed to come up with any in its recent session. And it’s unclear whether the state will regulate the number of retail outlets its license-holders can open — a key sticking point that killed a bill this month.
It’s also unclear whether any new licenses will be awarded, although, on Tuesday, an administrative law judge recommended the state issue two new ones, an order the state says it’s still reviewing. Still, Aphria says it remains bullish on the Florida market.