(MiamiNewTimes) While Tallahassee might yet hand out a few more licenses by the end of the session, the seven-member pot cartel is already cashing in big-time on its advantage. Yesterday Canadian firm Aphria paid $25 million to buy out Chestnut Hill Tree Farm, an Alachua nursery with one of those licenses. And last year, Massachusetts-based Palliatech bought a minority stake in Miami’s only legal pot grower, Costa Nursery Farms.
That’s why we’re seeing gigantic deals like Aphria’s purchase, which market analysts say puts a value of close to $200 million on a single pot license. And it explains why those seven license-holders are fighting like hell to hang on to their share of the pie.
“Behind the scenes, these seven guys have hired an army of the best lobbyists in the state,” the insider says. “These guys are trying to justify outrageous valuations for their licenses as they raise capital. And their message has been ‘Look, it’s game over; we’re going to be the only seven license-holders in the state.’”
“At the Senate Health Policy committee earlier this week, at least one senator used the need to protect the investments these companies have made in Florida as a rationale against expanding patient access by issuing new licenses,” Pollara says. “Yet while these companies’ lobbyists press members with protectionist sob stories, they’re out raising money hand-over-fist from big foreign investors.”
Among those investors: PalliaTech, the company that now controls a minority stake of the only firm licensed in Miami, is chaired by Boris Jordan, a Russian-American investor with deep ties to Moscow’s regime. (Just check out the glowing op-eds Jordan has penned in support of the dictatorial Russian leader.)