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On November 8, 2016, Florida passed legislation allowing the sale, cultivation, and use of medicinal marijuana products. Recreational use remains forbidden, and the regulatory climate of the Sunshine State is challenging.
Florida’s regulatory framework is still under construction. For patients, obtaining a medical marijuana card can take several weeks and cost between $200 and $300. Florida lawmakers deliberately left smokable cannabis products out of the state’s medical marijuana law, but Governor Ron DeSantis has announced that smokable cannabis flower will be available by May 2019.
Yes. Florida state law requires dispensaries – officially called Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers – to apply for a state license. As medical clinics, they must employ a Medical Director who is a state-certified physician, undertakes continuing education, and passes a state exam.
The Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU) oversees dispensary applications, physician qualifications, and patient cards. This office is a part of the Florida Department of Health run by the state’s surgeon general. As of February 2019, Florida’s newly elected governor has not yet announced who will take on this role.
The application period for dispensaries ended on July 8th, 2015, and the state is not accepting new applications. However, recent litigation may serve to open up the state to new cannabis dispensary applications in 2019.
The state has implemented caps on the number of license holders it certifies and the number of dispensaries a license holder can operate, but two Florida judges have ruled that these laws are unconstitutional. Governor Ron DeSantis has asked lawmakers to pass legislation that addresses these restrictions by mid-March.
Under the state’s current legislation, medical marijuana treatment centers must address their technical ability, cultivation infrastructure, processing, dispensing, and accountability. Applicants must appoint a medical director and provide comprehensive certified financial documents. All of the state’s approved medical marijuana license holders are large, vertically integrated businesses.
Florida charged a $60,063 non-refundable application fee to all applicants during its 2015 dispensing organization application process. The state only approved 13 applicants, leading many others to sue the state and try to change the application process – one of them succeeded, bringing the total number to 14.
There is at least one case of a major national cannabis brand acquiring a Florida-based medical marijuana license holder in order to utilize its license. MedMen bought Treadwell Nursery for $53 million in June 2018.
There is no annual licensing fee for cannabis dispensaries in Florida as of February 2019.
Florida offers a single vertically integrated medical license that covers growing, cultivating, processing, and selling cannabis products to patients with a physician-approved medical need. Judges have ruled these vertical licenses unconstitutional, but new legislation has not yet passed as of February 2019. When it does, new license types will likely be added.
Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis, elected at the end of 2018, plans on opening the cannabis market to a new application period in 2019. Hopefully, the process will be smoother than the state’s first application period in 2015, where some applicants waited more than a year to receive their licenses.
Out-of-state dispensary owners will need to wait until the state opens its application process to new applicants. Many of the state’s existing dispensaries are large, vertically integrated businesses that operate in multiple states. Newcomers without substantial resources may have difficulty complying with the state’s rigorous regulations.
Dispensaries must not be located within 500 feet of any elementary, middle, or secondary school. Florida’s medical marijuana law does not provide for substantial municipal-level interpretation or adjustment. From the perspective of a medical marijuana dispensary, operating in Miami-Dade requires following the same rules as operating in St. Augustine or any other city.
State law does not explicitly acknowledge cannabis events, but Florida is already home to many expositions, seminars, and cannabis-related conferences. Some of these events offer legal access to non-smokable, non-psychoactive CBD products.
No. Florida state law does not provide any framework for cannabis event premises licensing.
Not for now. New regulations may separate the cannabis event licensing requirements from medical marijuana licensing requirements.
Florida requires dispensaries to certify cannabis products at a marijuana testing laboratory prior to selling them. State statutes provide clear rules for the packaging of cannabis products and the types of “marijuana delivery devices” that are allowed. Notably, dispensaries cannot sell smokable cannabis flowers.
Dispensaries must also maintain a transportation manifest and record their sales. State authorities perform unannounced audits of cannabis dispensaries twice per year.
Florida dispensaries must maintain a fully functional security alarm system with 24-hour video surveillance. Security footage must record continuously and be accurately timestamped. Dispensaries must make security footage available to authorities for a minimum of 45 days and employ at least two security guards.
Because Florida’s regulations favor vertical integration, most dispensaries grow, process, package, and label their own products. This could change in the near future as the state’s new administration sets course to open up the marijuana marketplace and lower the barrier to entry.
No. Florida state law specifically prohibits selling alcohol and tobacco at cannabis retail stores. It also prohibits dispensaries from selling smoking paraphernalia such as pipes, bongs, and wrapping papers, but it makes an exception for physician-approved marijuana delivery devices.
Yes. Florida’s marijuana application process heavily favors vertically integrated businesses, but forthcoming legislation may serve to open the market toward smaller businesses as well. It is highly unlikely that Florida lawmakers will enact laws that restrict vertical integration.
No. Florida state law is robustly situated against the possibility of diverting medical marijuana to the black market and will impose large fines on medical marijuana dispensaries that cannot account for all cannabis products as either sold or in-stock.
Florida does not allow medical marijuana dispensaries to accept walk-in customers between 9:00 PM and 7:00 AM, but it makes an exception for medical marijuana delivery services. Florida dispensaries may deliver marijuana 24 hours a day.
Medical marijuana dispensaries in Florida may only have a single sign that identifies the licensee’s business name and logo. The logo cannot contain wording or images that promote the recreational use of marijuana.
Florida residents with qualifying conditions over the age of 18 need to obtain a doctor’s recommendation and apply online for a medical marijuana card. Minors can qualify if a second physician agrees to their medical need.
Florida requires cannabis dispensaries to maintain a marijuana transportation manifest in any vehicle transporting cannabis products. The dispensary must generate this manifest from a qualified seed-to-sale reporting system. Employees must be able to present a copy of this manifest to law enforcement authorities upon request.