Cannabis License Opportunities in the South For Q3 2023

The Latest in Southern Cannabis Business Updates

There is no shortage of cannabis license opportunities across the country as more and more states enter either the adult-use or medical marketplace. We recently released blogs about cannabis opportunities in the Midwest and Northeast, and today we are turning our attention to some sunnier states with mint julep, crawfish boils, and soon, cannabis. Let’s look at opportunities available in the South.

Alabama Cannabis Updates

Last year was a busy one in the Yellowhammer State and this year has proven to be a controversial one to say the least. Following a controversial delay in awarding cannabis licenses and launching a review process of the license awardees, the Alabama’s Medical Cannabis Commission ultimately awarded new licenses (which were largely the same as the previous ones) and plunged into even more controversy and litigation. But that doesn’t mean we’re done with Cannabis in Alabama just yet. The Commission received over 90 cannabis business license applications across six license types (integrated facility, cultivation, processing, dispensing, secure transport, and testing lab) and did not award the full amount of licenses they have the power to do so. For example, they could have awarded up to 12 cultivator licenses but only issued four. There will be opportunities in the future for subsequent license application windows for these coveted licenses for cultivation, secure transport, and testing labs, so be sure to stay up to date on the state’s website and begin planning materials which may be necessary for the application such as a business plan.

Florida Cannabis Updates

Oh Florida. Never change. (Actually, please do, at least in terms of cannabis).  Florida’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use opened up an application window for its medical marijuana treatment centers, but the state has seen upheavals and roadblocks ever since, in no small part thanks to its Governor. In July, a bill that raised eligibility requirements for industry workers and increased advertising regulation went into effect, removing exemptions from employment background screenings for people with felonies after three years have elapsed, misdemeanors after they’ve completed the terms of their sentence, and felonies that were reduced to misdemeanors. These measures are everything we don’t want to see implemented in cannabis, punishing those with past convictions who are already facing enough challenges finding employment. We’re sure Florida’s cannabis industry can turn things around, but the best opportunity now is to continue advocacy in the state and attending local conferences.

Georgia Cannabis Updates

The Peach State is a southern state which we are really excited for in the future. Georgia’s cannabis landscape isn’t ideal now, but we have reason to hope. The state’s second medical cannabis retailer launched sales recently in the town of Pooler, just outside Savannah. Presently, Georgia is allowing up to six licensed operators to manufacture and sell low-THC oil in the state, each of these six operators able to open six individual locations. While flower, edibles and vape cartridges remain illegal and the less than 5% THC potency limits a fair amount of the marketplace, we are optimistic about Georgia turning more and more towards cannabis; if not a fully operational adult-use market then at least an expanded medical market, as evident by the new rules approved of earlier this year. It’s never too early to begin preparing for a cannabis business, such as business planning or financial modeling and we’re eager to see what more Georgia will have to offer.

Kentucky Cannabis Updates

A state so nice we had to write about it twice. In March of this year, Governor Andy Beshear signed Senate Bill 47 to legalize medical cannabis in the commonwealth. Various laws also took effect on June 30, including regulations relating to delta-8 THC. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services will be responsible for the implementation, operation, oversight and regulation of the state’s new medical program. Beshear also recently tweeted some of his bipartisan accomplishments, and included medical cannabis as the top legislative item. While we still have a ways to go before the state program is fully in effect, now is the best time to start gearing up for conferences and industry events, beginning financial modeling and business planning, and laying the groundwork for your venture.

Louisiana Cannabis Updates

We’re continuing to see small steps of progress for Louisiana’s cannabis industry, with regulators recently filing proposed changes to their medical rules. Currently, there are two licensed medical-marijuana manufacturers in the state—the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center and the Southern University Agricultural Center. Each of those two licensees’ contracts with a third-party firm to handle the aspects of growth, processing, testing and transportation of the product. We have seen several recent bills pass such as Act 491 and Act 492 to authorize the Department of Health to regulate the medical marijuana program. There have also been “Louisiana Spotlight Shorts,” “High Times,” which offer clarity in the otherwise confusing landscape in the state. As for legalization, it’s an uphill battle. “I think it will be very tough — I don’t ever want to say impossible — to get legalization through this year,” says Peter Robins-Brown, executive director of Louisiana Progress, an advocacy group that supports legalization. “But I do think it’s inevitable, and probably inevitable within the next few years.” In states like Louisiana, and our next and final state highlighted, it’s best to maintain realistic positivity and patience, patience, patience. 

Virginia Cannabis Updates

If you’re in Virginia, it may be best looking to your northern neighbor Maryland for cannabis opportunities. While Maryland is gearing up shortly for its adult-use cannabis lottery (truly, get ready!). This is a qualified lottery coming in a matter of weeks!), Virginia is “not interested” in change or supporting cannabis. There is little headway in the confusing commonwealth of cannabis to be seen, but there is going to be ample opportunities just north of the state and may be worth considering if you want to scratch that cannabis itch sooner rather than later. 

Cannabis Opportunity Still Exists In The South – Take Advantage Now

Despite some bleak prospects in some of these states, there is still plenty to do and can be done here—from local support to community engagement. And of course, business planning and financial modeling to prepare for future licenses, which will be inevitable.

Contact Canna Advisors to see how you can get started on your Southern cannabis business right now.

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