Florida’s medical marijuana industry soon will be open to new business entrants for the first time in more than five years.
State health officials will accept applications for up to 22 new medical marijuana licenses beginning April 24, Gov. Ron DeSantis’s administration announced on Friday.
The new licensees would double the number of vertically integrated operators active in the state.
Under state law, each individual operator is allowed multiple cultivation and sales locations.
The state’s existing 22 operators had a total of 413 locations as of last year, according to the 2022 MJBiz Factbook.
At an estimated $1.5 billion in annual sales in 2022, according to the MJBiz Factbook, Florida’s MMJ market is one of the nation’s largest.
However, that market has been closed to new entrants since 2017 despite a mandate to grant new licenses to keep pace with the state’s registered patients.
Despite 778,000 patients in the state, DeSantis had left the state’s MMJ permits “in limbo” since taking office, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
The new medical marijuana licenses will be awarded while Florida’s largest company in the industry, multistate operator Trulieve Cannabis, banks heavily on a future adult-use market.
The company has contributed $20 million to date in support of a constitutional amendment that would legalize cannabis for all adults 21 and older – if it qualifies for the 2024 ballot and is approved by 60% or more of state voters.
The state Supreme Court is currently weighing the constitutionality of that proposed ballot initiative.