Most industries have seen downturns in business during the past two years as shortages, supply chain issues and rising prices caused by COVID-19 have turned the international economy upside down.
One industry that has bucked the trend, though, is cannabis. The state of Florida, where the plant is still only available for medical use, is a prime example.
From May 3, 2020, to May 3, 2022, the number of people with medical marijuana cards has more than doubled from about 350,000 to nearly 715,000, according to the Sunshine State’s medical registry. Hundreds more Florida doctors have entered the industry to prescribe the plant to patients and dozens of new dispensaries have opened, bringing a variety of new cannabis products to the market.
Like many cannabis users during the pandemic, more patients in Florida have turned to cannabis as a treatment for anxiety, insomnia and physical pain. Dr. Paul Weisman, owner of ZC Concierge Cannabis Centers in South Florida, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that anxiety and sleep disturbances have been his patients’ greatest medical problems.
“We have a lot more people coming in and asking for medical marijuana, but I am also seeing an uptick in the severity of underlying problems,” Weisman said.
The biggest cannabis patient population growth in Florida? Seniors, who are replacing their prescription pills with a more natural and holistic treatment that’s found in marijuana. The average age of medical patients in Florida is about 55 years old, up from 49 years old just a couple years ago.
Across Florida, storefronts selling the plant have moved into shopping centers and malls, renting spaces next to restaurants and retail stores. Cannabis stores offering the full gamut of flower, edibles, concentrates, vapes, topicals, tinctures and more are also popular in the state’s suburban areas. Despite the industry’s massive growth, more is certain to come. Many analysts believe the market is still underserved.
Still only 22 companies operating 420 total dispensaries are allowed to legally grow and sell the plant. The state requires all licensed operators to be vertically integrated. Mega-corporations Trulieve, Curaleaf, GreenWell, Surterra Wellness, MedMen and Muv are among the biggest names doing business in the Sunshine State.