Cannabis Opportunities in the Southeast
The Cannabis License Possibilities in the Southeast
Out of all the regions in the country, perhaps none are more exciting (and frustrating) for us in the cannabis industry than the southeast. We spend the better part of last year highlighting other regional opportunities from the Northeast to the West, and now we’re looking at what the land of peaches, alligators, and cannabis. Between state actions and the looming possibility of rescheduling, 2024 is going to have no shortage of opportunities in the southeast, including even some imminent license application windows.
North Carolina Cannabis Updates
Of the two Carolinas, it seems the northern of the two has a bit of an edge over its southern neighbor when it comes to cannabis prospects in 2024. Last year, North Carolina Senate Bill 3 or the Compassionate Care Act was introduced which would have allowed for “the sale of cannabis and cannabis-infused products to qualified patients with a debilitating medical condition through a regulated medical cannabis supply system.”
Democratic Governor Roy Cooper has expressed a desire to create a medical market for cannabis in the state, with a statement from his office dating back to 2021 saying, “Studies have shown medical marijuana can offer many benefits to some who suffer from chronic conditions, particularly veterans, and the Governor is encouraged that North Carolina might join the 36 other states that have authorized it for use.”
We’re feeling bullish on North Carolina acting this year towards establishing a medical market. Maybe talks of rescheduling will also lead the state to act.
Florida Cannabis Updates
The Sunshine State has a medical market up and running. Technically. In 2016, over 70% of Florida voters approved of the creation of a medical cannabis market and sales for medical patients began in 2020 through the Florida Department of Health. Licensed medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTCs) are the only businesses in Florida authorized to cultivate, process and dispense low-THC cannabis and medical marijuana. However, there are only 24 MMTCs with dispensing approval, and despite having a licensing round last year for new MMTCs, no additional licenses have been issued.
The last licensing round came as a surprise to us, so there is no telling if licenses will be awarded or another round may open this year. And while we may not like him, the state’s Governor, Ron DeSantis has said that, despite his previous opposition, cannabis legalization will be on the ballot in the upcoming November election.
Georgia Cannabis Updates
Multiple municipalities in Georgia have passed their own initiatives to decriminalize cannabis, and the state itself has allowed for medical cannabis oil with less than 5% THC with the first licensed sales occurring last year. Georgia has been busy with plenty of legislation that is, frankly, varied in scope and approach. This includes efforts to jump straight to adult-use and to allow pharmacies to sell medical cannabis.
More licenses are being issued to expand the otherwise very limited medical market, and with the DEA pushing back on the state’s plans for pharmacies, we anticipate the active state legislature will make advances with cannabis this year.
Virginia Cannabis Updates
We hate to pick favorites with states but…we are perhaps most excited and confident with Virginia finally addressing some of its strange and restrictive cannabis laws. The Senate Committee on Rehabilitation and Social Services recently passed a bill to legalize the sale of cannabis products. If it’s to survive and become law, this bill will need to move quickly. In the past, Governor Glenn Youngkin hasn’t been the most receptive to cannabis, but with mounting federal pressure and a fast-moving legislature to address issues the state has been grappling with for three years, now may be the ideal time for the state to act.
In addition, on January 31st the Cannabis Control Authority Board of Directors met and announced that there will be a licensing round for Health Service Area 1. There’s an aggressive timeline in place for this application with public notice planned for February, an application due date in late March, and conditional approval eyed for late June. This will be a competitive and highly sought after medical license that may prove to be one of the most valuable licenses in the state. There are just five Health Service Areas in the state with this Area 1 license covering such municipalities as Charlottsville, Fredericksburg, and Harrisonburg. For us in the first quarter especially of 2024, our eyes will be glued to Virginia.
How Can You Prepare Your Cannabis Business Now?
The south, and specifically the southeast, has some of the best upcoming opportunities and news updates heading into 2024. What all can you be doing now to strike while the iron is hot? Now is the ideal time to begin reaching out to local governments and inquiring about how they are planning to address cannabis, from a medical or adult-use side. And don’t forget about the importance of financial modeling, business development, and taking all the necessary steps to prepare for licensure.