Nearly two years after Florida voted to legalize medical use of marijuana, the latest update from the Office of Medical Marijuana Use reports 144,557 patients. Of this number, 109,749 qualified patients have been granted Active ID Card as of August 2018. According to the bi-weekly update, there are 1,596 qualified ordering physicians and 46 accredited dispensaries.
The marijuana market has been seeing a surge in demand with around 72 pounds of pot being sold every week. This increase in demand for marijuana isn’t at all surprising considering that the legal measure has received an overwhelming 70 percent vote during its deliberations.
Setting up a marijuana dispensary
One of the 28 States that have legalized medical or recreational use of marijuana, the State of Florida has tasked its Department of Health to regulate and implement the medical marijuana program. This includes licensure of Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTC’s), marijuana dispensaries, qualified patients, and qualified doctors.
The State plays a very careful approach in the licensure of MMTC, such that it initially approved only 7 licenses in 2016. However, in response to the demand and growing number of qualified patients, the department has granted new licenses last year boosting the existing MMTC’s. To date, there are 13 approved MMTCs and 43 retail dispensing locations. These MMTCs are allowed to grow, process, and dispense marijuana to qualified patients. Each MMTC license allows the company to build up to 25 marijuana dispensaries.
In view of the projected demand for medical marijuana, many companies are now considering applying for an MMTC license. Analysts at Statista.com predict that the sales value of medical cannabis in Florida will reach $2.5 billion by 2025. On average, an MMTC earns around $50,000 in medical sales annually. However, under the current laws, getting a license is tough. Only four treatment centers will be given a license for every 100,000 additional patients in the medical marijuana registry.
Before applying for a license, a non-refundable, upfront fee of $60,000 should be paid by interested parties. License to operate an MMTC has become very valuable due to the very good projections. In fact, some companies are reportedly selling it for up to $60 million.
The time frame from application to operating a marijuana dispensary is unpredictable and can be quite a long wait. You’re looking at more or less than 3 years before a license can be granted (but this is still dependent on the patient registry). Furthermore, applications for dispensary license that have been filed since 2015 will be given priority. Add to this waiting period, you need to allot about a year to work on the nitty-gritty and build up your inventory before you can actually get your business running.
Another problem companies faces when they build marijuana dispensary is that not many banks are willing to fund cannabis distributing companies, thereby making it difficult to lease commercial spaces or warehouses. Despite being legalized in Florida, many financial institutions are still wary about cannabis especially that it still considered an illegal substance at the federal level.