Florida Medical Cannabis to Launch New Licensing Round, First Expansion Since 2017

The move will double the number of licenses available in the state.

Florida’s health department will start taking submissions for a new round of medical marijuana applications during the last week of April, signaling a new era in the state’s growing market for the plant.

The announcement on Friday from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration comes after health officials in December published emergency rules that sets the stage for a revolving “batching cycle” that would bring new licensing opportunities online.

The medical marijuana statute, which was last revised in 2017, posited that the department would need to issue four more additional licenses every time the state’s patient population increased by 100,000 new entrants. The department was expected to begin another application process in 2018, but the issue was tabled.

The latest move will permit 22 new licenses, doubling the current amount of competition once approved. Prospective operators will be able to submit applications April 24-28, The News Service of Florida reported.

Those wanting to apply will have to pay a nonrefundable application fee of $146,000.

Additionally, regulators raised the license renewal fee from $60,000 to more than $1 million, an enormous hike that makes Florida one of the most expensive markets to remain in. The renewal fee is based on a formula that includes the amount of money it costs the state to regulate the industry.

The new window will be the first chance new entrants have had to enter one of the most promising – and expensive – cannabis markets in the world.

“An MMTC’s license not only grants the right to do all activities within the cannabis industry vertical, but it also allows that MMTC to build and operate an unlimited number of production and retail facilities within the state,” industry research firm Global Go wrote in a recent report.

“In other words, a Florida MMTC’s scale of development is entirely dictated by the market, not by the regulators.”

Even securing a license just to sell in the secondary market can prove fruitful, as licenses have traded for tens of millions of dollars. And if a recreational ballot initiative makes it to a vote come 2024, asking prices could push upward even further.

The state’s largest operator, Trulieve Cannabis Corp. (CSE: TRUL) (OTCQX: TCNNF), has already poured at least $15 million into the current campaign, which has already gathered enough signatures to trigger a Florida Supreme Court review of the measure, according to The News Service of Florida.

Adam Jackson

Adam Jackson writes about the cannabis industry for the Green Market Report. He previously covered the Missouri Statehouse for the Columbia Missourian and has written for the Missouri Independent. He most recently covered retail, restaurants and other consumer companies for Bloomberg Business News. You can find him on Twitter at @adam_sjackson and email him at adam.jackson@crain.com.

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