Cannabiz Media paid the state of Florida for copies of complaints, violations and fines issued by the Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana program. We were furnished with 90 documents that included images, photocopies, correspondence, and copies of checks. Some of the material was redacted. Cannabiz Media has been tracking violations and fines since our founding because we believe this information is very useful for those conducting business, sales and competitive intelligence.
- Fines ranged from $500 to $79,500
- The largest number of infractions had to do with advertising violations
- Window tinting tripped up three firms because product might be seen by passers-by.
- Competitors reported each other’s behavior.
Here are some of the more interesting violations:
Curaleaf was cited five times in the information shared with Cannabiz Media. Most of the actions were for minor issues like using an unapproved medical marijuana cross symbol on both sides of its dispensary facility, a window tinting violation and having two staff members without a current background screen or pass letter on file with the regulator. The largest infraction had to do with water.
Curaleaf was fined $10,000 for failing to construct a permitted potable water well by February 28, 2019 deadline; and $10,000 for failing to secure a permit from the Department’s Septic Systems Section to, at least, install a temporary facility that would be supplied potable water from the potable water well by the February 28, 2019 deadline.
Fluent showed up in the data for selling CBD or Hemp products which is not allowed. Not really a big deal but the real significance was the complainant was Curaleaf’s law firm: Metz, Husband & Daughton. And just like in that famous song Alice’s Restaurant – 8×10 glossies were provided (or iPhone pictures):
Earlier that year the same law firm called out Fluent for advertising store locations that had not yet opened – something for which Curaleaf received a cease and desist order.
Surterra landed in the sites of regulators thanks to Curaleaf’s law firm of Metz, Husband & Daughton and from an email sent by Kim Rivers, CEO of Trulieve. The law firm pointed out (with photos) that a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center engaged in advertising at a festival. Trulieve’s CEO shared that Surterra was selling a vape cartridge dispensed under a patients milligrams that were allotted for oral dispensation. Neither of these resulted in a fine.
Trulieve was also cited for a variety of issues. In 2017 a cease and desist order was issued on the sale of its Entourage product. Further, the company was directed to cease its recommendation to patients to purchase a delivery device outside of a licensed dispensing organization. The following year staff was observed manually breaking apart whole flower buds and removing remnants of stems and buds when an industrial grinder was on site but not being used. Neither of these resulted in a fine.
However, in October 2019 Trulieve was fined $30,000 for the Advertising and Sale of Unapproved Products. Trulieve had submitted a variance request to the regulator, but it was not yet approved.
VidaCann had the largest fine we saw at $79,500 for a variety of issues:
- $500 for failing to have two individuals present in the vehicle transporting marijuana on June 5, 2019, in violation of section 381. 986(8)(g)5
- $77,000 for failing to appropriately background screen 154 individuals required to undergo and pass level 2 backgrounds screening, in violation of section 381.986(9)
- $1,000 for materially deviating from an application for licensure for propping open interior doors to controlled areas on June 11, 2019, in noncompliance with Cresco Florida ‘s initial application and in violation of section 381.986(8)(e), Florida Statutes; and
- $1,000 for materially deviating from an application for licensure by utilizing an unapproved vehicle to transport product between a processing and dispensing facility on June 5, 2019 in noncompliance with Cresco Florida ‘s initial application and in violation of section 381.986(8)(e), Florida Statutes.
Why is this significant?
We think this information is enlightening for several reasons:
- Helps industry stakeholder gauge market attractiveness by showing what the business & regulatory climate is like in a state
- Provides insight on the level of competitiveness (some of the alerts to the regulators were filed by competitors or their counsel)
- Shows some transparency by the regulator though this is the first time we paid for violations data.
We’ve covered violations in Colorado earlier this year and have amassed over 4,200 records in the database. The largest fine we found in Colorado was $200,000 while an early one in Connecticut was for $300,000. Harvest was issued a $500,000 fine in Ohio to settle a social equity misrepresentation charge. These interactions between the regulator and regulated provide an important window on how our industry is viewed from the outside. Washington State leads the way in transparency, along with Oregon and Maryland. Connecticut and Florida – among others require a written request while Colorado issues only a yearly list.
Cannabiz Media customers can stay up-to-date on these and other new licenses through our newsletters, alerts, and reports modules. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive these weekly reports delivered to your inbox. Or you can schedule a demo for more information on how to access the Cannabiz Media License Database yourself to dive further into this data.
Cannacurio is a weekly column from Cannabiz Media featuring insights from the most comprehensive license data platform. Catch up on Cannacurio posts and podcasts for the latest updates and intel.
Ed Keating is a co-founder and Chief Data Officer of Cannabiz Media and oversees our data research and government relations efforts. He has spent his whole career working with and advising information companies in the compliance space. Ed has overseen complex multijurisdictional product lines in the securities, corporate, UCC, safety, environmental and human resource markets and focuses on workflow products over the last twenty five years. During that time he has worked for both startup and established information companies where he has led marketing, product management and sales organizations. These companies include Wolters Kluwer/Commerce Clearing House, CT Corporation, EDGAR Online and Business & Legal Reports. At Cannabiz Media Ed enjoys the challenge of working with regulators across the globe as he and his team gather corporate, financial, and license information to track the people, products and businesses in the cannabis economy. Ed graduated from Hamilton College and received his MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University.