Florida Marijuana Cultivation License

Does Florida Require Marijuana Growers to Obtain Cultivation License?

Yes. The State of Florida requires marijuana growers to obtain cultivation licenses before they can legally grow marijuana. However, the cultivation license is bundled with marijuana treatment center licenses and is not issued exclusively. Per Florida Statutes Section 381.986, only licensed medical marijuana treatment centers (MTC) may cultivate marijuana in the state. The Florida Department of Health issues marijuana treatment center licenses. Florida’s MTC licenses permit organizations to grow, process, transport, and dispense low-THC cannabis, medical cannabis, and engage in cannabis delivery devices. At the inception of the MTC program, the Department of Health licensed only ten new marijuana treatment centers. Currently, it issues four new licenses for every 100,000 new medical marijuana patients that register with the state’s medical marijuana program. It is illegal to grow marijuana on private residential properties in the State of Florida.

Per state laws, Florida requires all medical marijuana treatment centers to show the technical and technological ability to grow marijuana. They are also required to prove the ability to secure their premises and hire appropriate personnel needed to grow marijuana. MTCs must equally maintain accountability for all raw material, finished products, and other byproducts to prevent unlawful access or diversion. The medical marijuana treatment centers are only permitted to make bulk purchases of marijuana if they can convince the Department of Health that their harvest failed.

Several rules apply to MTC when cultivating marijuana in Florida. These include:

  • Pesticides used for growing marijuana must be approved by the Department of Health in consultation with the Department of Agriculture and have proven to be safe and for human consumption.
  • Marijuana must be grown in an enclosed space with restricted access and separate from other plants.
  • Marijuana plants must be treated and fumigated, while infected plants must be removed and destroyed.

What Are the Different Types of Cultivation Licenses in Florida?

Florida has only one type of marijuana cultivation license, which comes bundled with the MTC license. MTC licenses permit MTC to grow marijuana on the state-recommended scale. Licensed MTCs in Florida practice vertical integration. As such, they must cultivate, process, and transport their marijuana products.

Who Can Grow Marijuana in Florida?

Licensed marijuana treatment centers are the only legal entities permitted to grow marijuana in the State of Florida. As stipulated in Florida Statutes Section 381.986, only qualified staff above 21 years who have passed a level 2 background check in line with the state laws are permitted to work in marijuana treatment centers. Generally, staff of MTC's do not require special permits to grow marijuana. However, the MTCs are required to provide appropriate training on the cultivation and handling of marijuana and marijuana products to their staff. Florida does not permit felons or individuals with prior criminal records to work in a marijuana treatment center.

How to Get a Marijuana Cultivation License in Florida

To obtain a marijuana cultivation license, interested parties must apply for an MTC license as this is the only license in Florida that permits a marijuana business to cultivate marijuana.

Per Section 381.986(8)(a), F.S., the Department of Health is responsible for issuing licenses to marijuana treatment centers. To apply for an MTC license, an applicant must complete the Application for Medical Marijuana Treatment Center Registration Form and submit it to the Department of Health for processing. MTC licenses are issued biennially and applicants must adhere to the application's requirements, blind grading, format, and organization as prescribed on the application form. Completed applications must be submitted with the following:

  • A non-refundable application fee of $60,830
  • A written proof from the Florida Department of State or Department of Revenue confirming that the applicant has a Florida registered business that has existed for at least five years. The applicant's name on the application must match the name on any such supporting documentation.
  • Written evidence that the applicant holds a current Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services certificate of registration.
  • A list of the owners, managers, officers, and board members together with the date of their most recent Level-2 background check within one year of the application

Completed license application forms and supporting documentation should be hand-delivered to:

The Department of Health

Office of Medical Marijuana Use

4052 Bald Cypress Way

Tallahassee, Florida

The Department of Health will review submitted applications and then notify applicants with incomplete applications within 15 days of receiving the applications. Applicants with incomplete documentation are required to provide any missing document within five days of receiving such notifications.

If an applicant's documentation is complete, the application is forwarded to subject matter experts for review and scoring. A team of seven subject matter experts in different relevant fields will then review and score relevant sections of the application. These experts will analyze, evaluate, and score applications using the Scorecard for Medical Marijuana Treatment Center Selection Form. Subject matter experts involved in this process include:

  • A Professional with two years of relevant experience or a master’s degree holder in agriculture, horticulture, or agronomy
  • A Professional with two years of relevant experience or a master’s degree in chemistry, biology, or biochemistry
  • A Professional with two years of relevant experience or a master’s degree in industrial engineering, supply chain management, or strategic management
  • A Professional with two years of relevant experience or a master’s degree in a field related to running a business in a highly regulated environment
  • Individuals with at least two years of management experience in a health-care-related firm
  • Individuals with active CPA licenses or current law licenses and experience in business structuring

Each applicant's score from each section is added to give the applicant's overall score. Applicants who do not pass the background check or meet the minimum scores for cultivation, processing, marijuana dispensing, security, or general operations, will not be included in the final application ranking. Per Section 381.986(8)(a)3., F.S., applicants with facilities used for canning, concentrating, or processing of citrus fruits will receive 35 additional points.

Licenses are issued to applicants who:

  • Have been registered to operate a business in Florida for at least five years before the license application
  • Have valid registrations from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, as required by section. 581.131 of Florida Statutes.
  • Can show the ability to develop and produce marijuana, including but not limited to low-THC cannabis, on a technical and technological level.
  • Can show the capacity to procure the appropriate facilities, resources, and hire employees to run a medical marijuana treatment facility.
  • Have the ability to keep track of all raw materials, completed products, and byproducts to avoid diversion or unauthorized access to or ownership of these substances.
  • Have a system in place to deliver marijuana to certified patients who have registered.
  • Can show proof of financial ability to continue operations for a 2-year approval cycle, including providing certified financial statements to the department.

Under Section 381.986(8)(a)2, F.S., 10 licenses are to be issued at the start of the medical marijuana treatment center program. The law requires that priority be given to the following categories of applicants:

  • An applicant whose application was reviewed, analyzed, and scored by the department but was denied a marijuana dispensing organization license by the department under former Florida Statutes 2014 shall be licensed by the department if:
    • The applicant had one or more administrative or judicial challenges pending as of January 2017
    • The applicant shows the department that it has the required infrastructure, technical, and technological capabilities to start cultivating marijuana within 30 days of registration for a medical marijuana treatment center.
  • One applicant who is a recognized class member of Pigford v. Glickman, 185 F.R.D. 82 (D.D.C. 1999) or In Re Black Farmers Litig

Preference is given to applicants that qualify to be licensed and demonstrate in their applications that they own facilities used for the canning, concentrating, or processing of citrus fruit. If two applicants score an equal number of points in the evaluation, the applicant with the highest score in Financials - certified documents, Financials - Business Structure, Diversity Plan, and Accountability- Operations in order of priority is selected.

Once a license application has been approved, the applicant must within ten days:

  • Post a performance bond, provide an irrevocable letter of credit to the department or provide financial assurance to the tune of $5 million.
  • Provide proof to back up any statements made in the application about property ownership and leases.

How Much Do Marijuana Cultivation Licenses Cost in Florida?

Florida marijuana cultivation license is bundled with the MTC license. The MTC license permits interested parties to grow, process, and dispense medical use marijuana in the state. MTC licenses are reviewed and renewed every two years for $60,830.

Can Licensed Marijuana Cultivators Hold Other Cannabis Licenses in Florida?

Yes. Generally, the MTC license permits license holders to grow marijuana in Florida. It also allows them to process, produce, retail, and dispense marijuana in the state. However, MTC license holders are not permitted to operate marijuana testing centers.

Florida Marijuana Cultivation License