The Hefty Cost Of Staying In Business: Florida's MMJ Market & New Licensing Can Cost Millions

Medical cannabis sales in Florida reached $201.6 million in October, which should come as no surprise, considering that in the first six months of 2022, sales had already exceeded the $1 billion mark, according to Headset data.

Medical cannabis companies operating in the state, such as Trulieve Cannabis Corp TRUL TCNNF, Red White & Bloom Brands Stock RWBYF, Columbia Care Inc. CCHW CCHW CCHWF 3LP and Verano Holdings Corp. VRNO VRNOF are trying to keep up with the demand by opening new stores.

To that end, the state regulators opted to award 22 additional medical marijuana (MMJ) treatment center (MMTC) licenses in that the number of registered patients is expected to reach 889,497 by June 30, 2023.

On Monday, the Florida Department of Health announced new rules to set up the MMJ treatment center application process for those interested in entering the burgeoning industry.

“After years of waiting, (the Office Of Medical Marijuana Use) has published an emergency rule for the application process to license new MMTCs. Over the next few weeks, we expect OMMU to publish follow-up rules outlining more details,” said Dustin Robinson, founding partner of Mr. Cannabis Law.

The new entrants are required to pay a non-refundable application fee of $146,000, while additional costs after securing the license are dramatically higher.

The new call comes with news that regulators decided to substantially raise a license renewal fee, reported Green Market Report.

Back in 2015, MMJ operators in Florida had to pay around $60,000 to be allowed to sell low-THC marijuana products. Businesses also have to renew their licenses every two years.

According to Department of Health spokesman James Williams III, the renewal fee in 2022 is set at $1.33 million.

Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is also fond of the idea of medical cannabis businesses paying a lot more for a chance to operate legally in Florida.

The state “should charge these people more,” DeSantis said recently, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “I mean, these are very valuable licenses. I would charge them an arm and a leg. I mean, everybody wants these licenses.”

Efforts To Legalize Recreational Cannabis

Meanwhile, attempts to put recreational cannabis legalization before Florida voters in 2020 and 2022 failed.

However, a new push from Smart & Safe Florida to put the question before voters in 2024 is picking up steam.

Cannabis activists have already garnered over 50 000 valid signatures, but in order to be certified by the Florida Division of Elections the petition needs to have 891,589 valid signatures.

The initiative to legalize the possession, use and purchase of marijuana by adults over 21 kicked off in August and is supported by the state’s largest medical cannabis operator Trulieve.

Photo: Courtesy of Ernie114, PeterPike by Pixabay

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