Blurring The Line In Florida

Ed “NJWeedman” Forchion's The Joint of Miami Photo: The Joint of Miami

Some “canna-preneurs” — or people making money off of marijuana — are blurring the line between Florida’s legal medical marijuana business and the still illegal recreational marijuana business.

A New Jersey club owner has just opened a marijuana-themed club in Miami and a Las Vegas cannabis company is planning a future expansion into Florida with marijuana SuperStores in cities like Miami and Orlando.

According to Orlando Business Journal, Planet 13 Holdings Inc. has recently agreed to buy Harvest Health and Recreation Inc.’s Florida Medical Marijuana Treatment Center license for $55 million. (The license became available when Trulieve Cannabis Corp. agreed to purchase Harvest Health.) The purchase of the license is subject to regulatory approval, but if it goes through, Planet 13 wants to have multiple SuperStores in Florida, which will provide a combination of dispensary and entertainment concepts.

They would be modeled after its largest SuperStore, near the Las Vegas Strip, which includes a restaurant, dispensary, interactive art exhibits and a Willy Wonka-like product display, where employees create THC-infused snacks like chocolates and gummy candy in front of customers, according to the Orlando Business Journal.

But Ed “NJWeedman” Forchion is blurring the line even further.

In July, Forchion opened The Joint of Miami, located in Miami’s trendy Wynwood Art District. Billed as “the first cannabis consumer-friendly art and music lounge in Wynwood,” the private club offers nightly entertainment, like comedy, reggae, hip hop, and jazz as well as a full bar and a ‘munchie’ food truck on site.

According to a recent press release, “the venue is set up to as a haven for cannabis fueled enjoyment.”

Forchion is a recreational marijuana activist who says he’s spent over 1,200 days in prison on felony distribution charges in New Jersey. He owns NJWeedman’s Joint, where according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, he sold marijuana in New Jersey’s state capital — directly across from City Hall. At the time of the article in 2020, Forchion didn’t have a license and what he was doing was “blatantly illegal,” but neither he nor, according to the article, the mayor of Trenton at the time, really cared.

When asked if he planned to abide by laws regulating the use of cannabis in Florida, Forchion replied, “For now we will abide ….. just as in New Jersey for a couple years we abided …”

However, the validity of that statement comes into question when a video of The Joint of Miami‘s Grand Opening on the club’s website shows employees of the club seemingly serving stacks of marijuana joints on platters, like hors d oeuvres.

Questions to the City of Miami’s mayor’s office on the legality of Forchion’s latest venture are so far, unanswered.

The Joint of Miami is part of Forchion’s long-term plan to participate in what he hopes will soon be a legal recreational pot business in the Sunshine State.

“The plan is to be included in any legal market: we aren’t going to watch a white only marijuana market develop without acts of civil disobedience. As recreational marijuana becomes legal in Florida we will be participating,” Forchion said in a statement to The Capitolist.

A recent survey by Public Policy Polling, shows 59 percent of Floridians support legalizing recreational marijuana compared to 31 percent of people who oppose it.

However, this year, the Florida Supreme Court struck down two different ballot initiatives that would have left it up to voters to decide in 2022 if recreational marijuana should be legal. Each time, the high court voted five to two, calling both initiatives “misleading.”