In the fast evolving cannabis industry, it can be challenging to identify unique growth and expansion opportunities.
Florida is the biggest medical cannabis market in the US, with over $1.04B in sales in 2022. It is a complex market to watch as the industry moves forward, in addition to this market’s amazing size, unique sales trends, and consumer preferences.
The Sunshine State legalized the growth, distribution, and possession of marijuana in 2014 but only for medical purposes. Customers need to hold a valid MMC (Medical Marijuana Card). It has not yet legalized the recreational use of cannabis.
If you’re looking to open a marijuana dispensary in Florida, you can only do it with a medical license as at the time of writing. Right now, applications for recreational and medical CBD programs are closed and there is no definitive date on when recreational use will be permitted.
So far, it seems that if you’re opening up a marijuana dispensary in Florida for recreational use, you are going to have to wait for the ballot in Florida as an initiated constitutional amendment by November 8, 2022.
Can You get a License in Florida Now?
Florida in a highly anticipated move that could double the size of its medical cannabis market. State health regulators started a process in December 2022 to issue up to 22 new medical marijuana licenses.
Additionally, the state Department of Health released an emergency regulation that would significantly increase the cost for marijuana business owners to renew their licenses every two years, from around $60,000 to more than $1 million.
After the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis claimed that medical marijuana businesses weren’t paying enough to operate in the state, the renewal costs were hiked.
Health officials would accept applications in “batching cycles” under an emergency rule outlining the procedure for applying for new licenses. The plan did not specify how many licenses would be available in each cycle; it just stated that the windows for the batching cycles will be defined in a separate rule.
The rule also increased the fee for new license applications from $60,830 to $146,000, more than doubling it from the state’s initial licensing round more than five years ago.
Dispensary Laws in Florida
In 2014, the state of Florida passed a legislation allowing possession of medical marijuana for those who have a valid MMC. On May 1st, 2018, the Florida Department of Health filed a Notice of Proposed rule in which the following requirements for clinics and dispensaries were set forth.
- Only those with the appropriate medical license can cultivate, process, and dispense medical marijuana
- Applicants looking to open a marijuana dispensary in Florida must:
- Have been registered for any sort of business for the past 5 consecutive years before submission of cannabis dispensary license
- In order to cultivate marijuana, dispensaries must obtain a certificate from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
- Dispensary owners must be familiar with the technical and technological issues with the cultivation and processing of marijuana
- Dispensaries must have a secure premises, necessary resources and registered personnel ready before applying for a license
- Owners must demonstrate their financial ability to ensure the going concern for their dispensary for at least two years. This includes posting a $5 million performance bond backed by registered/authorized surety company
- From owners to employees, everyone associated with your cannabis industry must be screened (level 2 background screening)
- Applicants looking to open a marijuana dispensary in Florida must:
The Cannabis Market in Florida
Although opening up a marijuana dispensary for recreational use isn’t legal in Florida yet, it’s only a matter of time before the state follows the nationwide trend of legalization.
Senators are strongly considering legalization because of how large the industry can be and the tax value it generates.
Opening a marijuana dispensary in Florida right now will help you build a strong foundation by 2022, i.e., the time recreational use is expected to be legalized.
Even if we consider just the medical marijuana sector, it is quite extensive in Florida. To put this into perspective, consider that in 2017, there were 24 medical cannabis dispensaries in the state, a figure that rose to 302 in 2020.
The number of active patients, on the other hand, rose from over 56,000 to over 300,000.
Weekly sales of medical marijuana amounts roughly to $18.8 million; 40% of this includes smokable products.
And according to a report by the Washington Examiner, by year-end 2021, the addition of edibles into Florida’s medical marijuana market is expected to result in an even bigger increase in sales.
Industry analysts suggest that medical marijuana sales figures could go as high as $1.3 billion in the upcoming year and $6 billion by 2030.
Before you open a marijuana dispensary in Florida, some notable legal weed dispensaries (medical) that you might have to compete with include:
- Surterra Wellness
- Knox Medical
- Liberty Health Sciences
- AltMed Florida (MuV)
- The Green Solution
- Grow Healthy
- Columbia Care Florida
- 3 Boys Farm
- Remeny Wellness
- Green Owl Pharms
Since you’ll likely be competing with giants, the only way you can penetrate the market more effectively is by making sure you eliminate any and all inefficiencies from seed to sale.
Let us help you get that edge by implementing a robust IT infrastructure into your dispensary, cultivation farm, and supply chain.
How to Open a Marijuana Dispensary in Florida
Before you embark on your ‘magical’ journey of opening up a marijuana dispensary in Florida, you should consider the prerequisites we mentioned above along with the eligibility criteria set forth by the state. These include:
- Investors, owners, directors, managers, or employees must not have felony(s) on their record
- Dispensaries and cultivation centers must be in appropriate zones and be 500-1000 feet away (respectively) from schools and places of worship
- Businesses must have a business plan along with the necessary funding, employee list, and location determined before applying for a license
Step 1: Establishing Your Business
The basics of opening a marijuana dispensary in Florida are just like opening any other business and include:
- Deciding on the business name and structure. This will include:
- Cannabis dispensary name or DBA (doing business as)
- Determining whether the business will be a corporation, firm, LLC, ULC
- Registering yourself with the state registrar
- Applying for an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- Getting relevant business licenses/permits
Step 2: Planning
Next, you will have to lay out everything you intend to do, your resources, the funds you have, employee names, and more in a detailed business plan.
This will include forecasted expenses and income as well.
This business plan needs to be submitted along with your license and may also go to potential investors, so be careful here.
Step 3: Generate Funding
The state of Florida requires that you have $5 million in reserve to show that you can take care of any and all expenses as they arise.
In 2021, the expected cost of opening a marijuana dispensary in Florida stands somewhere between $250,000 and $750,000.
The licensing fee for medical marijuana dispensaries in Florida is $60,830 – much higher than other states in the US.
Step 4: Property for Your Store
As mentioned above, the state of Florida requires that you have a property secured before you apply for a license. This property should be in the relevant zone and 500 to 1000 feet away from schools and residential areas. Requirements for locations vary from county to county.
Step 5: Time to Apply for a License
Next, cross your fingers and apply for your marijuana license. As we mentioned above, as at the time of writing, you can only apply for a medical marijuana dispensary license in Florida.
Step 6: Setting Everything Up
You’ll have to wait a bit before you hear anything back from the state. They will go through all of your documents and your background to determine whether you’re fit to open a dispensary or not. Once you have the green light, the most difficult aspect of your venture will be in front of you; setting up.
This part is difficult only because of the level of detail you need to dive in.
From buying the right furniture all the way to the inventory, building a supply chain infrastructure, setting up a POS, tracking inventory, and more. What you need to focus on most is your inventory (and the safety precautions associated with it) and the IT side of things.
The state of Florida is rather strict in terms of marijuana inventory management, so it stands to reason that you are going to have to keep track of every seed, seedling, plant, flower, and more. Especially now that edibles are also allowed, Florida Marijuana markets need to have a strong IT infrastructure. Cure8 can help you get the necessary IT services and project management to help you stand on your feet.
If you have decided or are simply wondering how you open a marijuana dispensary in Florida, our 24/7 customer support teams are always ready to help you out. From the legal requirements to managed IT services; we’ve got you covered! So get in touch today and kick start your marijuana dispensary.
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