How to Open a Dispensary in Florida:
Today is by far one of the most exciting days for prospective Dispensary Owners in the state of Florida. Following a highly anticipated vote, Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative or Amendment 2 received the required super-majority (at least 60% of votes) and has officially passed! In fact, it received over 70% of the vote, confirming that the people of Florida have spoken!
This is fantastic news for all those currently suffering from ailments or illness and could use medical marijuana to alleviate their symptoms. It’s also good news for those interested in providing the product to those in need. So without further delay, we’re going to give you the information we have now on how to open a dispensary in Florida.
While the historic decision is exciting, we can expect the actual law and application process will still be revealed in the coming weeks. Since we’ve been waiting eagerly for this moment, our team is following the news closely and will have that information updated in the Complete Dispensary Package within days of the application information being released. To get started, let’s talk about what exactly the amendment says.
What does the Amendment Say?
Literally, the amendment states the following:
Amendment 2 “allows medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician. Allows caregivers to assist patients’ medical use of marijuana. The Department of Health shall register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes and shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers. Applies only to Florida law. Does not immunize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana.”
The debilitating medical conditions referred to in the amendment, and for which patients are allowed to seek medical marijuana as treatment, include:
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Crohn’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- multiple sclerosis (MS)
Apparently this means that the passing of this amendment specifically targets patients with the previously mentioned diseases as acceptable users of medical marijuana for treatment; however, there’s also this statement to consider:
Licensed doctors can also prescribe medical marijuana for patients use after diagnosing them with “other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated, and for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.”
So, in more edible terms, this means that physicians can determine what qualifies as a medical condition where marijuana would be an appropriate treatment, as long as the condition is considered debilitating and the risk of using marijuana is lower than continuing without treatment. We can assume that this will enable physicians to operate at their discretion on a case by case basis, potentially opening doors for those suffering from less common ailments.
Of course, this is only one aspect of the new legislation. What happens once someone receives a prescription, for example? To understand what comes next, we have to look at how the use of medical marijuana will be enforced in Florida.
How will the Law be Enforced?
Luckily, these things weren’t overlooked in the proposal. Amendment 2 also laid the groundwork for how the law will be enforced in the state of Florida. In a nutshell, each of the clarifications essentially state that anyone following the procedures outlined by the Florida Department of Health cannot be prosecuted by Florida criminal or civil law. If you’re into specifics, here they are in full:
(1) The medical use of marijuana by a qualifying patient or caregiver in compliance with this section is not subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under Florida law.
(2) A physician shall not be subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under Florida law solely for issuing a physician certification with reasonable care to a person diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition in compliance with this section.
(3) Actions and conduct by a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center registered with the Department, or its agents or employees, and in compliance with this section and Department regulations, shall not be subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under Florida law.
While we’re here, it’s important to note the new definition of a “Medical Marijuana Treatment Center” because it will determine how and where dispensaries and its counterparts operate. The thorough definition found in the Amendment states:
“Medical Marijuana Treatment Center” (MMTC) means an entity that acquires, cultivates, possesses, processes (including development of related products such as food, tinctures, aerosols, oils, or ointments), transfers, transports, sells, distributes, dispenses, or administers marijuana, products containing marijuana, related supplies, or educational materials to qualifying patients or their caregivers and is registered by the [Florida Department of Health].”
While this ultimately means that an MMTC encompasses nearly everything from the growth and production to the distribution and sale of marijuana, we have to note that some of the details are not perfectly clear. Most notably, there are still some grey areas around the number of patients a caregiver will be able to care for. For example, as it stands, a “Caregiver” means”
“a person who is at least twenty-one (21) years old who has agreed to assist with a qualifying patient’s medical use of marijuana and has qualified for and obtained a caregiver identification card issued by the [Florida Department of Health]. The Department may limit the number of qualifying patients a caregiver may assist at one time and the number of caregivers that a qualifying patient may have at one time. Caregivers are prohibited from consuming marijuana obtained for medical use by the qualifying patient.”
In other words, the Florida Department of Health may determine how many patients using medical marijuana that a caregiver can have at any time but this is yet to be determined. If you want to read the full initiative, go here. Otherwise, we’ll move on to details about when you can expect to see the legislation in action.
What is the Timeline for Opening a Dispensary in Florida?
This, following the passing of the amendment, is maybe the most important question. Unfortunately the short answer is that we’re not exactly sure just yet. Like all new laws, it will take some time to set up the infrastructure and we can’t be certain when the laws will take effect. BUT the long answer is that the Florida Department of Health must release their procedures within a maximum of six months after the effective date of the Amendment being adopted (yesterday!) for the following areas:
- “Procedures for the issuance and annual renewal of qualifying patient identification cards to people with physician certifications and standards for renewal of such identification cards. Before issuing an identification card to a minor, the Department must receive written consent from the minor’s parent or legal guardian, in addition to the physician certification.”
- “Procedures establishing qualifications and standards for caregivers, including conducting appropriate background checks, and procedures for the issuance and annual renewal of caregiver identification cards.”
- “Procedures for the registration of MMTCs that include procedures for the issuance, renewal, suspension and revocation of registration, and standards to ensure proper security, record keeping, testing, labeling, inspection, and safety.”
- “A regulation that defines the amount of marijuana that could reasonably be presumed to be an adequate supply for qualifying patients’ medical use, based on the best available evidence. This presumption as to quantity may be overcome with evidence of a particular qualifying patient’s appropriate medical use.”
In other areas, The Florida Department of Health has a little more time. They will have a maximum of nine months to release their procedures for rules in these areas:
- “Identification cards and registrations. The Department shall begin issuing qualifying patient and caregiver identification cards, and registering MMTCs no later than nine (9) months after the effective date of this section.”
- “If the Department does not issue regulations, or if the Department does not begin issuing identification cards and registering MMTCs within the time limits set in this section, any Florida citizen shall have standing to seek judicial relief to compel compliance with the Department’s constitutional duties.”
In any case, the good news is that you don’t have to wait for the Florida Department of Health to make their decisions until you get started on your new business venture. You can already take steps to get your dispensary going, so that you’re ready to go when the law is officially enacted.
What Can I Do Today to Start the Process of Opening a Dispensary in Florida?
Even with the timetable still slightly unclear, there are things you can do today to ensure you are successful in opening a dispensary in Florida. The first thing you is get our free download to see what it takes to Get Started and Get Approved. Then, it’s a good idea to begin taking a look at what dispensary start up costs you’ll need to plan for. You can also start getting your business plan in order to attract investors and ensure you’ve accounted for everything that you need to have the most successful Florida Dispensary possible.
Finally, if you’re really serious, you can get all this information in one easy place because we’ve already put together all the information you need to get licensed in this incredibly lucrative business. So don’t wait. Get started now, and stay tuned. We’ll update the procedures for Florida as soon as they’re in place.