Anticipation & Steep Competition for New Florida Cannabis Licenses

Licenses Will Be Won — or Lost — by a Fraction of a Point

5 Years – 1 License

I remember the excitement on November 8, 2016, when Florida passed Amendment 2 with over 71% of voters approving the legalization of medical cannabis. We immediately received a flood of calls from teams interested in pursuing a new license. An expansion of the program seemed inevitable as the state progressed from CBD oil only to a full-fledged medical cannabis market.

Little did we know that it would be five years later before the state ever released a new application. And that application would be to award one Pigford Black Farmer license as a result of a class-action lawsuit dating back to 1997 and mandated by the 2016 constitutional amendment.

Imminent Licenses Following Pigford?

In any case, we’re in the future now and every indication is that new MMTC (medical marijuana treatment center) licenses are imminent. The state took the time to develop a completely new application, including formatting and scoring rubric, for Pigford applications. My experience of working in 30+ regulated cannabis markets tells me that it is not likely they spent that time and effort only for the issuance of a single license.

All indications are the state will use the same application – minus the Pigford requirements –  to conduct the first major expansion of the Florida medical marijuana program later this year. Further indications of a timeline came when Senator Darryl Rouson, a St. Petersburg Democrat, tacked an amendment onto SB 768 allowing eligible Pigford applicants who don’t win to roll over their application fee into the next application window.  That bill takes effect on July 1, 2022. 

An Incredible Opportunity — and a Massive Task

I’ve personally heard numbers ranging from 15 to 24 new licenses, but nothing has been officially announced. It is possible the state wants to finish the Pigford process prior to conducting a larger-scale application process.  A trial run, so to speak.

Having worked with a Pigford applicant, I can tell you the process of putting together the required resources and writing a top-notch application is a massive task requiring months of preparation prior to ever putting pen to paper for the submission. 

The trajectory of the Florida cannabis market provides an incredible opportunity for those awarded licenses. As such, the competition will be steep with licenses likely won or lost by a fraction of a point. 

If applying for a Florida license is on your radar you should be working now to be ready when an announcement is made. Those with their ducks already lined up will be better positioned to succeed once an application period is announced. 


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