The state has issued a pair of emergency rules that lay out how new licenses will be awarded and what current medical marijuana treatment centers must do to maintain their licenses.
New entities wanting to operate in Florida’s lucrative medical marijuana market will be required to submit a $146,000 non-refundable fee to the state and submit an application that will be competitively reviewed by the state under a new emergency rule issued Monday.
Taylor Patrick Biehl, a lobbyist with Capitol Alliance Group, said businesses are eager to operate in Florida and medical marijuana companies are no different.
“We’ve been anticipating this for the past several years,” he told Florida Politics, saying the emergency rules now allow for expansion.
The initial application fee is more than double what licensees initially paid, but reflects the amount the state charged so-called Pigford applicants. While Gov. Ron DeSantis has been loath to increase operating costs for Florida businesses, he has complained in the past that he didn’t think the state charged enough for lucrative medical marijuana licenses.
It’s not only application costs that will increase. The state appears to also be increasing the costs for businesses to stay licensed. Medical marijuana treatment centers currently are required to pay $60,063.
In determining the fee, the state will calculate how much money it spent regulating the industry over the previous two fiscal years and subtract from that the amount it collected in application fees. The sum will be divided by the number of medical marijuana treatment centers licensed.
It’s not clear how much the state has spent regulating the industry over the last several years, but the Department of Health included a $6.2 million increase for the Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU) in its most recent budget request to state legislators. About half of that will be spent on hiring an additional 31 staff at its Tallahassee headquarters. It also wants to staff new regional offices.
The other half will be spent on outside contractors that administer the seed-to-sale tracking systems; produce medical marijuana identification cards; conduct background screenings; review licenses; and provide outside legal work.
The state is projecting 1,044,072 patients will qualify for medical marijuana treatment and register with the state by June 2024 and, as a result, an additional eight medical marijuana treatment center licenses will be awarded in FY 2023-24.
While the emergency rules take effect immediately it’s not clear when the state will announce the first batching cycle for the new licenses, though applicants will have five days to submit their applications. The five-day clock starts with the publication of the cycle.
The new emergency rule requires the state to establish the batching cycles by separate rule, however. The state will announce the number of licenses it will award each batching cycle. Budget documents show the OMMU anticipated there will be eight new medical marijuana treatment center licenses awarded between July 1, 2023 and June 30, 2024.