Although recreational marijuana remains illegal in Florida, the state’s medical cannabis sector still pushes its cannabis industry to a top 3 ranking in the United States, with more than 800,000 active patients and sales crossing the $1 billion mark. To set up a dispensary in the state, you must obtain a medical marijuana treatment center license from the Office of Medical Marijuana Use. However, the application window for an MMTC license is currently closed.
Even as recreational cannabis remains illegal in Florida, the state's medical cannabis industry remains one of the largest in the United States. In 2021, Forbes ranked the over $1 billion cannabis market in Florida only behind California and Colorado in annual sales, two states with recreational cannabis markets.
In July 2017, only 63,054 patients were registered in the Medical Marijuana Use Registry (MMUR). As of September 2023, there were 810,685 qualified patients with active MMUR ID cards under the state's medical marijuana program, showing a rapid growth in participation in the cannabis sector. Considering the size of the Florida cannabis market, opening a dispensary in the state is undoubtedly a lucrative investment.
With recreational marijuana illegal in Florida, the only dispensary license available in the state is a medical marijuana treatment center (MMTC) license. This license is issued by the Florida Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU).
You can only apply for a Florida MMTC license when the application window is open. Currently, OMMU is not accepting applications. However, per the previous application window, applicants were required to complete a 2-part application form. The first part of the application required applicants to provide basic information about themselves and the applications. The second part required applicants to provide the OMMU with detailed items to demonstrate the ability to operate as an MMTC. However, applicants were required to fulfill the following conditions before they could apply:
It is recommended that you check the OMMU website for updates on when a new application window will open.
At the previous MMTC license application window, the following were required of applicants:
In the previous application window, MMTC license applicants were required to submit a number of plans to support their application. These included:
For more information on the content of these plans, see the previous MMTC license application instructions and requirements. Note that the OMMU will publish on its website if these plans will still be required when a new application window opens.
Florida municipalities are allowed to restrict medical marijuana treatment center establishments within their jurisdictions. Hence, MMTC license applicants must obtain local authorization by fulfilling the specific requirements in place in the area where they plan to set up. Once a new license application window opens in the state, MMTC license applicants must speak with local authorities about the mandatory steps to take to obtain local authorization.
The OMMU will publish the application and licensing timelines on its website once a new application window opens.
The specific areas where you can open a dispensary in Florida vary depending on the county or municipality zoning regulations. However, in most cases, MMTCs are permitted in commercial or industrial zoning districts. Also, there may be additional restrictions, such as distance requirements from schools, churches, and other sensitive areas. Typically, a dispensary must be at least 500 feet away from a school.
It is important to contact the zoning department in the county or municipality where you plan to open an MMTC to get specific information about the zoning requirements in the area.
Yes. Florida allows MMTCs to have multiple locations in the state.
To open an MMTC in Florida, you must pay a license application fee of $146,000 and a licensing fee of $1,223,124.42. However, other start-up and operation costs vary depending on the size of the dispensary operations. These include the following:
An MMTC is required to hold a surety bond of $5,000,000. This bond must be posted by the dispensary within 10 days of having its license approved by the Florida Office of Medical Marijuana Use. Per Section 381.986 of Florida Statutes, an MMTC may maintain a $2,000,000 surety bond upon serving 1,000 medical marijuana patients.
The surety bond, also called a performance bond, ensures that the dispensary abides by all state-stipulated regulations and rules regarding the operation of an MMTC. The bond provides compensation for the state should the MMTC fail to abide by the terms of the bond.
Note that per state law, workers' compensation insurance is mandatory for all businesses in the state. Workers compensation insurance covers medical bills, disability benefits, and recovery costs if an employee of the MMTC is injured at work.
Note that when a new application window for MMTC licenses opens in the state, there may be other insurance policies required.
Securing a grant or loan for starting a dispensary in Florida can be challenging. Considering the illegal status of cannabis federally, conventional banks and lenders are hesitant to extend financial support to such businesses. However, there are alternatives available to persons seeking to establish an MMTC. These include:
No, Florida does not currently have a social equity program for dispensaries in the state. However, Florida has some provisions that are aimed at providing for some type of equity in the cannabis industry:
This potential license holder would be granted an exemption from the requirement of being registered to conduct business in the state for 5 consecutive years before submitting a licensing application. However, the cost related to this particular license is twice that of a general applicant.
Florida does not have a cannabis-specific tax on marijuana sales.