How to Open a Dispensary in Florida


Are you wondering how to open a dispensary in Florida? This page is dedicated to keeping you up to date on the latest news and information relevant to opening a cannabis business in Florida. This includes helpful insights on what is to come next for the state. 

On January 19, 2021, State Representative Yvonne Hayes Hinson filed HB 291, a bill moving for the Legalization of Recreational Marijuana. If it is passed, persons 21 and older will be allowed the personal use of marijuana, albeit in limited amounts. 

In the same week, two Florida lawmakers introduced bills aiming to allow medical marijuana stores to sell recreational marijuana to residents of the state: Pinellas County Sen. Jeff Brandes introduced SB 710 on January 21, 2021 while Orlando Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith filed HB 343 just a few days prior. These would allow persons 21 and older to purchase and use limited amounts of marijuana (up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, or a product with up to 2 grams of THC), without requiring a medical marijuana card. Smoking marijuana in public would still be illegal, though.

Those from all sides of the political spectrum have expressed support for this initiative.

The Opportunity Size

Current estimates project that recreational marijuana sales will top $32 billion by 2024. With a population size projected to reach approximately 21.9 million in 2021, it’s clear that the state will be a hot market for recreational marijuana.

Additionally, the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state will have significant effects on its projected tax revenue. According to state economists, retail impact would amount to $2.1 billion, sales tax would reach $128 million, and tourism sales and taxes could peak at $672 million. This also has the added benefit of preventing budget cuts to essential sectors such as healthcare and education.

Had recreational marijuana been approved the previous year, experts say that it could have added $190 million in sales tax and tourism dollars into Florida annually, and could have increased the number of jobs related to hemp, cannabis, and marijuana by more than sevenfold by 2025. 

Local Cannabis Restrictions & Laws

As recreational marijuana rules start to change in a state, it is not uncommon for towns and municipalities to enforce their own rules for what is allowed and what is not. Some communities will strongly support state legislation; others will demonstrate lukewarm support; a few will likely even outright disagree with whatever the state decides. 

Sarasota County, for example, has moved once again to restrict recreational marijuana, regardless of its legalization status in the state. Meanwhile, cities such as Boca Raton, Coral Springs, Margate, Tamarac and Pembroke Pines, Delray Beach, Highland Beach, Hillsboro Beach, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Royal Palm Beach, Sea Ranch Lakes and Southwest Ranches have enforced bans on marijuana dispensaries

Medical Marijuana

On November 8, 2016, the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative (also known as Amendment 2) was included in the Florida ballot as an initiated constitutional amendment, and was subsequently approved. Less than a year later, on June 9, 2017, the Florida State Legislature passed SB 8A, also known as the Medical Use of Marijuana Act, which defined the medical conditions qualifying a patient for medical marijuana. The stated conditions include cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma and HIV/AIDS. 

Medical Marijuana Dispensary and Cannabis Business Opportunities

As of 2020, there are over 400,000 patients with qualifying conditions in the state who have registered as medical marijuana patients. 

Medical Cannabis Dispensary Application Fee and Guidelines

The Department of Health has provided a list of requirements to start a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC) in Florida here, which includes an initial application fee of $60,063.00. Licensed MMTCs can cultivate, process, transport, and dispense marijuana for medical use.

It is important to note, however, that the state department is not accepting applications for MMTCs at this time. You can check this page from time to time for the latest updates and changes on these regulations.

Recreational Use/Adult Use Dispensary

Despite public support for adult-use marijuana, the road to legalization is not expected to be an easy one. 

One of the biggest roadblocks would be heavy opposition from Central Florida, where theme parks and the hospitality industry have overwhelmingly opposed legalized marijuana to preserve the region’s “family-friendly” reputation as a tourist destination.

Should legalization efforts fail, it may ultimately be up to the voters to decide. The Florida Marijuana Legalization Initiative may appear on the Florida ballot as an initiated constitutional amendment on November 8, 2022.

Recreational Use Dispensary Application Guidelines

Here are the guidelines for recreational use dispensary application, if HB 291 passes.

An applicant for a marijuana establishment license will have to file their application in the form that the division requires for the type of marijuana establishment license sought. According to the bill, the division will begin accepting and processing applications by August 1, 2022. Upon receipt of application, the division shall immediately forward a copy of the application and 50 percent of the license application fee to the locality in which the applicant desires to operate. If the applicant meets the requirements within 90 days after the date of receipt of the application, the division shall issue or renew their license to operate.

Future Plans

Successfully passing these bills would make Florida the first state in the South to legalize recreational marijuana.

As mentioned earlier, the Florida Marijuana Legalization Initiative may appear on the state ballot as an initiated constitutional amendment. A petition for this is being led by Nick Hansen, chairman of Make it Legal Florida. According to Hansen, judging from the normalization of medical marijuana use in the state, odds for approval are good if the decision were to be placed in voters’ hands.

As Florida moves toward full legalization, many new events will unfold that will be relevant to those looking to start a cannabis business in Florida. By adding yourself to  Cannabesecure’s Florida Cannabis Mailing List (below), you will be updated on how to open a dispensary in Florida and all relevant sunshine state news that matters, difficult to find news, and commentary from key figures involved in Florida’s recreational and medical cannabis industry.

This includes but is not limited to

  • When will new Florida cannabis license applications be available?
  • How much will it cost to open a dispensary in Florida?
  • What are the requirements to open a dispensary in Florida?
  • What special programs will be available?
  • And more 

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