How to Open a Dispensary in Florida: Operating & Marketing in FL

Posted on September 1st, 2023 to Dispensary Marketing

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The path to legalize cannabis on any level has been a rocky road in the state of Florida. Numerous bills (HB 291, SB 710, and HB 343) have been filed in efforts to legalize cannabis on a medical level, most of which died or got shot down somewhere along the path to passing. There have also been more recent efforts to bring adult-use cannabis retail to life in the Sunshine State to no avail just yet.

In December 2022, emergency rules set forth by the Florida Department of Health emerged with the intention of getting medical cannabis to patients in the state. Florida’s state health officials began accepting applications for medical marijuana dispensaries in small batches in early 2023. While getting your foot in the door as a dispensary operator in FL can come as a challenge, here’s what to know about how to open a marijuana dispensary in Florida.

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How to Open a Dispensary in Florida

Due to the rules set forth by the state, licenses to open a dispensary in FL are not openly available. Instead, the Department of Health is only accepting licensing applications periodically and in small batches. Those interested in opening a dispensary in FL can only obtain a license to open a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC). The state only allows an MMTC license, which grants the license holder permission to perform all tasks within the cannabis business.

Each MMTC in FL must be a vertically integrated establishment. In other words, you will not only be applying to be a dispensary, but you must also obtain authorization to cultivate and process cannabis, distribute cannabis, and even transport cannabis. Therefore, obtaining a dispensary license in FL is a multistep process and more complicated than in other states. Take a look at the steps that can be involved in the process.

1. Familiarize Yourself with FL State Laws

The state laws surrounding cannabis in FL are more complicated than most, especially if you intend to step into the business side of the industry. Before you decide that you want to open a FL dispensary, take the time to get familiar with the laws and regulations in the state surrounding cannabis and MMTCs. A few good resources include:

2. Make Sure You Qualify for an MMTC License

Florida has a stringent list of requirements that must be met for those who are interested in obtaining an MMTC license. During the application process, you will learn that there are several requirements that must be met before you can complete the application. It is best to know these requirements before getting started. For example, applicants must:

  • Have been registered to conduct business in the state for at least five consecutive years
  • Undergo a thorough background screening and all business affiliates must do the same
  • Have a certificate of registration provided by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

3. Complete the 3-Part Application Process

Florida’s application process is broken down into three primary parts, and each part can have a number of steps and requirements involved for completion. The general parts include:

  • Part 1 – Providing basic information about all business parties, providing certifications from the FL Department of Revenue and Department of Agriculture, information about the planned medical director
  • Part 2 – Complete a 16-section list of items with such items as demonstrating your cultivation knowledge and experience, explaining the cultivation and processing infrastructure, providing a financial plan, and providing a diversity plan
  • Part 3 – Submitting the application and all requested proofs, including information about the business premises, and posting a performance bond

How Much Does It Cost to Open a Dispensary in Florida?

Due to the vertically integrated nature of opening a dispensary in FL, the process can be a costly endeavor. The cost for the application alone is $146,000, and this fee is non-refundable. In addition, this license must be renewed every two years after approval at the cost of $1.33 million. Approved applicants are also expected to maintain at least a $2 million performance bond.

Ready to Shine Light on Your Florida MMTC

The path to obtaining a license to dispense cannabis in FL can be arduous. However, once you get through and start your operation, competition can be fierce. Need help with your marketing plan to make sure your MMTC stands out? That’s what CannaPlanners is all about.


Read Next: Full Guide to Dispensary Marketing

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