Florida ready to issue 22 more medical marijuana operating licenses, but a price spike is imminent

by | Dec 20, 2022


  • The state of Florida is readying to issue 22 more medical marijuana operating licenses, according to an emergency ruling
  • With the influx of new operators, the application fee is jumping to $146,000 from the previous $60,830
  • A separate emergency ruling published on Monday lays the foundation for the state to accept applications in a method it is referring to as batching cycles
  • The ruling states that a “batching cycle” is the grouping of applications for comparative review

Florida officials are ready to issue up to 22 medical marijuana operating licenses, with the Department of Health laying out guidelines for businesses to enter the state’s industry.

Just 19 providers actively manage state-approved dispensaries in Florida, irrespective of the fact that medical marijuana is a multibillion-dollar industry in Florida.

According to state law, officials and regulators must grant four new licenses for every 100,000 new patients who enter the market.

The state recorded roughly 776,000 patients as of this month, meaning that 22 additional licenses are required to be given out.

To enter the medical marijuana space won’t be cheap, though. According to an emergency ruling issued Monday evening, the application fee for new licenses would be $146,000 — a sharp increase from the $60,830 fee imposed during the state’s inaugural issuance of licenses in 2016.

Per the ruling, once the state receives an application, which is legally classified as public record, it will be “evaluated and scored by evaluators” in accordance with the required infrastructure, experience, and qualifications.

“During Phase Two Review, the Department’s evaluators will qualitatively review and score the scored sections of the applications, and other Department personnel will assess the non-scored portions of the applications,” states the Department of Health. “Upon completion of Phase Two Review, the Department will proceed to Phase Three Review during which it will calculate the Total Application Score for each application and approve the selected applicant for licensure.”

A separate emergency ruling published on Monday lays the foundation for the state to accept applications in a method it is referring to as batching cycles.

The ruling states that a “batching cycle” is the grouping of applications for comparative review, though it does not specify when the cycles will be opened or how many licenses will be granted during each one.

The emergency order also states that if additional Medical Marijuana Treatment Clinic licenses become available before a final agency action on applications submitted during any given batching cycle, such additional licenses will be subject to and awarded through a separate batching cycle published by the department.

The rulings drew quick criticism from Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried, who has frequently criticized state action in regard to medical marijuana.

“Wow, [Gov. Ron DeSantis] has become so predictable,” said Fried on Twitter. “Cannabis rules out for new licenses limits the release of new licenses based on “need” in violation of state law. Desantis continues to show he is not a capitalist, against freedom, favors BIG government, and ignores the laws.”

Fried wasn’t the only one levying frustrations toward the state. Many in the agricultural sector grew impatient with officials as the decision to issue new licenses was pushed further down the legislative to-do list.

Tensions reached a tipping point after a grower filed a lawsuit in November accusing the Florida Department of Health of violating the state Constitution by delaying the issuance of medical marijuana licenses.

Under a Constitutional amendment, the state passed a law in 2017 requiring the number of growers to keep pace with the number of authorized medical marijuana patients.

Given the aforementioned 776,000 recorded patients, the now incoming 22 new licenses were due to be issued years ago.

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