Getting a Medical Marijuana Dispensary License in Florida

What is the business landscape like in Florida when it comes to getting a dispensary license (or more precisely, a MMTC or Medical Marijuana Treatment Center permit)? Here is a sketch of the facts.

1) The state is stingy when it comes to giving out permits. States like Colorado or Oregon issue permits to all qualified applicants, with relatively modest fees. Florida has only given out 13 permits to date, and they expected to announce another round of permitting, probably starting at the end of May, 2018. The fee that the Sunshine State wants just to accept your application is over $60,000, and that is non-refundable.

2) Florida is a state with “vertical integration.” This means that each medical cannabis business needs to do everything needed, from seed to sale. Each company has a responsibility to grow, process and manufacture, transport, and retail cannabis. It is not possible (as it is in some other states) for a company to decide they only want to make edibles, or only grow, or only have a retail store … every licensee has to do it all. This increases the responsibilities on each company, increases their size and complexity, and increases needed investment.

3) Florida is not really in a hurry to issue more licenses. The process has been delayed and the state is behind schedule – they claim it is due to lawsuits, but many believe it is just foot-dragging. The regulations say that four new licenses shall be issued when the patient count reaches 100,000 (which it just did in mid-April 2018). But because over 20,000 of the people who are in the registry never got cards, it is possible that the state will argue that the real patient count is well under 100,000, and that they don’t have to move on those applications just yet.

4) Competition is stiff. With between 4 and 11 licenses to be issued, there will probably be more than 100 applications. Applying for an MMTC license in Florida is a highly speculative venture.

5) The potential rewards are high, especially for the early movers. Florida has over 20,000,000 residents, and many have entered the grey zone (where issues like chronic pain, cancer, MS and Parkinsons disease are more likely). The MMJ program is likely to grow to 500,000 to 1 million people in the next few years… if the average patient spends $200 a month ($2400 per year), then the math speaks for itself … a market worth billions of dollars each year, with a small number of companies that are allowed to participate.

6) The application process has been streamlined and made more professional, but it is still lengthy. The new process limits the length of each section, and the total length is under 100 pages, but it takes time and effort to compile. Certified financials and a multi-million dollar performance bond is needed, along with a sketch of the team, growing experience, medical director, marketing plan, etc. Importantly, most of the application is made anonymous and is scored by people who cannot give extra points to people or companies they know (a major criticism of the first round of applications).

7) It takes a team. The application process requires a plan that includes dozens of different roles – medical director, grower, security, human resources, retail, and many more. No one person can do it alone. Putting together a successful application requires building a team. If you don’t have your full team in place, you might want to contact someone like Vector One Global, consultants who know the Florida ground game.

The applicants that are successful will be the ones that put together a well rounded team, with depth in every area of the business. Winning will not be easy, but it may be very rewarding for those who do.

This article was written by Vector One Global.