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The 411 on Opening a Medical Marijuana Business in Florida

04 March 2017

Opening a medical marijuana business in Florida suddenly became a lucrative prospect for entrepreneurs, thanks to more than 71 percent of state voters approving Amendment 2. According to the health department, at least 420,000 patients in Florida are now eligible for medical marijuana. Such a huge client base could see the industry explode to up to $5.6 billion in sales per year as estimated by the Florida Department of Revenue.

Before you go packing your bags to move to the Sunshine State, know the lowdown on opening a medical marijuana business in Florida.

 

What does Florida law say on opening a medical marijuana business?

The state of Florida currently has seven medical marijuana growers that can open an unlimited number of dispensaries. The first medical marijuana law in 2014 specified that these businesses can provide only non-euphoric cannabis treatment for children with severe epilepsy and qualifying patients that were terminally ill.

Amendment 2 now covers a broader list of patients with debilitating conditions including cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, post-traumatic stress disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Lou Gehrig’s disease, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. Doctors are also given a free hand to prescribe marijuana “for other debilitating medical conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.”

Amendment 2 defines a medical marijuana treatment center as any entity that “acquires, cultivates, possesses, processes, transfers, transports, sells, distributes, dispenses, or administers marijuana-related products to qualifying patients or their caregivers.”

Any individual or business entity interested in opening a medical marijuana business in Florida is required to obtain a permit from the Department of Health.

Legislation on opening a medical marijuana business has hit a snag

Unfortunately, Florida lawmakers have reached an impasse on how to implement the amendment. Based on a report by the Miami Herald, the House and Senate could not agree on how many retail outlets each medical marijuana treatment center should be allowed to operate. House Bill 1397 – approved with a vote of 105-9 – wants to add 10 new treatment centers next summer with four additional growers for every 100,000 patients. The number of dispensaries would be unlimited. Senate Bill 406, however, is proposing to grant five new licenses by October and more licenses as the number of patients increase. SB406 limits the number of retail outlets by each licensee to three.

What you can do now if you plan on opening a medical marijuana business

The Florida Health Department is said to already be laying the regulatory groundwork based on Amendment 2 despite the legislative gridlock.

A patient with a debilitating condition – as confirmed by two physicians – can legally obtain medical cannabis treatments in either the flower or concentrated form and in low THC doses. High THC doses will be restricted to terminally ill patients. Medical marijuana treatment centers will be allowed to dispense edibles, tinctures, aerosols, oils, and ointments in a variety of CBD to THC ratios.

The Department of Health is in charge of issuing identification cards to qualified patients and caregivers. The agency will also handle the registration process of medical marijuana treatment centers, including procedures such as issuance, renewal, suspension, and cancellation of licenses.

Preparing for your Florida medical marijuana business

If you are serious about opening a medical marijuana business in Florida, you can start preparing while you wait for the state to start issuing licenses.

  • Select a location.

Some Florida cities may adopt the amendment when it passes while some may choose to opt out. Before you spend time and money planning for a medical marijuana business, study the local conditions and make sure you are investing in a cannabis friendly location.

  • Check out other state regulatory models.

California and Colorado are more open to weed than New York, Illinois, or Nevada which have stricter rules. Study both ends of the spectrum to have an idea what to expect from Florida.

  • Plan your budget.

Expect medical marijuana business licenses to be expensive. Do you have the capital right now or will you need additional funding? Plan for startup operational costs, legal fees, and the application process itself.

  • Learn how to navigate the federal law.

Cannabis is still illegal under federal law. You might want to hire a good law firm with extensive experience in the industry.

Our business professionals are experts in the field of cannabis dispensary licensing. Let us help you get the ball rolling if you plan on opening a medical marijuana business in Florida. Call Piotroski Law today.

Chad Piotrowski - post author

Chad Piotrowski is a criminal defense attorney in Miami, Florida. He is a former Miami-Dade Prosecutor and has practiced criminal law, exclusively, for more than 10 years.

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