US: License regulations in Florida, Massachusetts could impact high-stakes MMJ acquisition

A company already drawing scrutiny in Florida for potentially holding a stake in multiple medical cannabis businesses drew similar interest from Massachusetts regulators. Now a high-priced acquisition could hinge on how Florida handles its own licensing rules.

Purchases in both Florida and Massachusetts involve the hedge fund Gotham Green Partners. That business last year made a play to purchase most shares of iAnthus, another fund with a heavy stake in the industry. But that’s a deal iAnthus now wants nixed, with iAnthus and Gotham on different sides of a lawsuit last month in a Canadian court over details of the restructuring deal, according to the trade publication GreenMarketReport. Gotham sued iAnthus demanding more time to finalize the arrangement.

The Gotham deal, though, means a significant purchase in Florida. Because iAnthus owns GrowHealthy, one of 22 medical cannabis businesses licensed to operate in Florida, that would give control of a player in a tightly regulated industry to Gotham, which already owns a stake in MedMen, another licensed cannabis company operating in Florida.

But Florida law forbids the same entity it it owns 5% or of one cannabis license holder from owning any stake in another, as the Tampa Bay Times noted in July. That has the industry’s attention already turning toward the state Department of Health to see what decision gets made about the purchase. Still, in the short history of legal cannabis enterprise in Florida, the state has never denied such a license transfer and many question if it will do so now.


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