Stay Focused in Florida: Tips for MMJ Applicant Hopefuls

Caroline Morris
October 23, 2018

Legal Battles Slow Florida’s MMJ Program

Lawsuits have plagued Florida’s medical marijuana program for many years; in the latest round of legal complexity, a judge has issued an injunction prohibiting the Department of Health from moving forward with the license application process for vertically integrated cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensing businesses known in Florida as Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers. In turn, the Department of Health has filed an appeal that, if successful, would negate the injunction.

There has been much speculation about what this all means for potential applicants, and these recent developments have already caused a significant number of companies to slow down their efforts or give up on trying for a license in Florida entirely. As with any market uncertainty, those with higher risk tolerance are now presented with an opportunity to double down as their competitors exit the market.

Back to the Basics

The question then becomes — what can hopeful operators focus on in the midst of this uncertainty in order to position themselves for success in Florida? With the complexities unfolding at the state level, potential applicants should return to the basic pillars of their business: property, people, and processes.

Property:

Finding available properties that are properly zoned for the cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensing of medical marijuana is one of the first steps in turning a business plan into a reality. Yet, this becomes increasingly difficult as a license application period heats up and more and more properties are spoken for. If you are interested in pursuing a license in Florida, now is the time to search for properties that fit your budget and business model.

People:

All businesses are dependent on their people to carry out the company vision, and this is especially true for startup businesses in emerging industries. Assembling a deeply experienced team that includes both C-suite executives and cannabis-industry experts should be top-of-mind for would-be applicants, as the current application clearly calls for a variety of experienced team members. One unique staffing consideration is the position of Medical Director; each Medical Marijuana Treatment Center must have a licensed allopathic physician on staff who has completed a two-hour training program offered by the Florida Medical Association or the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association.

Processes:

Florida’s high heat, high humidity environment presents unique challenges for marijuana cultivation. In fact, the Department of Health is keenly aware of these challenges, and asks applicants to explain their knowledge and experience with growing plants in high humidity environments as part of the license application. Potential applicants should be examining their cultivation processes to determine if they have fully accounted for the regional environment and how they will communicate that message to the State.

Keep Focused in Florida

The businesses that remain focused and determined through the recent regulatory challenges will be rewarded with a chance at serving Florida’s nearly 173,000 patients (the Office of Medical Marijuana Use is issuing over 1,500 new Registry identification cards each week) in a market projected to hit $1.7 billion by 2022.

If you need help starting a medical marijuana business in Florida, contact our cannabis consultant experts today to see what you should be doing now to prepare.

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