How to Open a Cannabis Dispensary in Florida

By Bernhard Mehl
July 12, 2019

The state of Florida legalized medical marijuana in March of this year and is well on its way to legalizing recreational marijuana in a future election cycle. Currently, Florida has 139 licensed medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTCs). If you are looking to open the 140th, then you should start by reading our guide to opening a dispensary here. 

The Florida Department of Health is not accepting new MMTC applications at the moment. However, you can still start collecting all of the materials necessary to fill out your application now. The health department’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU) website has links to the proposed new MMTC application and scorecard for you to reference. You can read some of our key takeaways below. 

How to Open a Dispensary in Florida

Since there are already over 100 dispensaries in the state, Florida hasn’t made the application process easy. The non-refundable application fee in Florida is $60,036, which is very, very high in comparison to other states. Florida also has a long list of documents that individuals are required to submit as part of their MMTC application. In your application, you must include a:

  • Business Plan
  • Cultivation Plan
  • Marijuana Processing and Manufacturing Plan
  • Employee Manual
  • Environmental Plan
  • Financial Plan
  • Fire Safety Plan
  • Inventory Control Plan
  • Recordkeeping Plan
  • Patient Education Plan
  • Product Safety Plan
  • Security Plan
  • Staffing Plan
  • Suitability of Proposed Plan
  • Transportation Plan

Requirements in Florida

You can read a history of marijuana laws in Florida and current requirements for opening up an MMTC here, but we suggest starting with out decoded version first. Here’s the full list of application requirements, minus the confusing legalese:

  • You must be registered to do business in Florida for five years before you submit your MMTC application.
  • You must have a valid nursery certificate of registration from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
  • You need the skills and the equipment necessary to be able to grow and produce marijuana, including low-THC cannabis. 
  • You must be able to keep your property, resources, and employees secure.
  • You must keep accurate records of your raw materials, finished products, and any byproducts to prevent anything from being stolen and used illegally.
  • Your facility must be in a location that is easily accessible to qualified medical marijuana patients, as determined by the department. 
  • You need the financial ability to stay open for the two year approval cycle. You must be able to provide financial statements to the department during this period.
  • All owners, officers, board members, and managers must pass a level two background screening. 
  • You must hire a medical director to supervise your MMTC. 
  • You need a diversity plan to involve minorities, minority businesses, and veteran businesses in ownership, management, and employment.
  • Within ten days of receiving your license, you must post a $5 million performance bond issued by an authorized surety insurance company. The company must be rated in one of the three highest categories by a nationally recognized rating service. If you cannot do this, then you may provide an irrevocable letter of credit payable to the department or give the department cash. 

Security Options

Many of the requirements above require experts and paperwork, which can take money and time to find. But you can get started with security measures right away, especially if you already have a facility. In your application, you want to be able to prove to your state or local government that you will be a responsible dispensary owner by having a reliable security system in place to protect your product. A system like Kisi’s enables you to control your security both on-site and remotely, so you can be sure your product is always safe. With Kisi, you can:

  • Restrict access to just yourself and a few of your employees
  • Manage your security system from anywhere
  • Integrate Doorbird to automate your front desk, unlock doors from anywhere, and track unlock logs

You can learn more about different kinds of access control and security options by downloading Kisi’s Physical Security Guide here

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Need help?

If you are struggling with opening a dispensary in Florida or you aren’t sure how to get started, these websites may be helpful:

Learn Sativa University offers an overview of application requirements and a Florida Cannabis College course to teach you everything you need to know about opening a dispensary in the Sunshine State. 

Dispensary Permits can connect you with a consultant or send you a Florida Marijuana Business Plan Application Package. This site also has a full history of all marijuana laws in Florida since 2014. 

Green Rush Consulting has links to Florida medical marijuana laws as well as a variety of business templates for marijuana entrepreneurs. 

NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) has Florida marijuana laws, arrests, NORML chapters, and marijuana lawyers. 

Bernhard Mehl

Bernhard is the co-founder and CEO of Kisi. His philosophy, "security is awesome," is contagious among tech-enabled companies.

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