Without a doubt, the Florida legislature considers medical marijuana to be a serious prescription drug subject to extensive regulation. The low-THC medical marijuana laws that go into effect on January 1, 2015, require dispensaries to grow their own product and hold them to very high standards. While the standards may change if 60 percent of Florida voters approve a new medical marijuana law, our medical cannabis law firm predicts that legislators will continue to impose strict regulations over the industry.
High Competition for Florida Dispensaries
Current Florida medical marijuana laws limit the number of dispensaries to five throughout the state. Although it remains unclear as to how many patients will qualify to use the new drug, the Tampa Bay Times reports that legislators elected to make the final selection of dispensaries based on a lottery of qualifying businesses. Of course, since businesses must be ready to open their doors on January 1st, businesses planning to begin the application process now may want to reconsider that decision
The Regulations Require a 30-Year Agricultural History
The Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 specifically defines “dispensing organizations” as those approved to “cultivate, process, and dispense low-THC cannabis.” In other words, the five dispensaries must include all operations, from planting seeds to filling prescriptions, all within a single self-contained business. The growing operations alone are subject to strict requirements, including the following:
- Applicants must have valid certificates of registration from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer
- Services and be operated by a nurseryman as defined within the law.
- The certificates must permit the cultivation of more than 400,000 plants.
- The nurseries must have a 30-year continuous history of registration within the state.
Florida Low-THC Dispensaries Must Follow Additional Regulations
Assuming businesses pass the agricultural requirements, they still need to operate a business to sell a product that poses potential criminal risks. As such, the medical marijuana laws impose additional regulations for the dispensing end of the businesses, including the following:
- They must have the ability to secure the premises, resources and personnel.
- Reliable systems must be in place to account for raw materials, finished products and byproducts to keep them safe from criminal use.
- They must meet financial requirements.
- Owners and managers must subject to fingerprinting and pass level 2 background screenings.
- The businesses must hire a physician as a medical director who can supervise dispensing activities and monitor physician registration.
Only Strict Compliance Can Help Prevent the Loss of Time and Money for Florida Cannabis Businesses
No business seeking consideration under the low-THC medical marijuana laws can take the process lightly. Even businesses that gain approval and eventually win the lottery can lose the privilege at any time. The legislation includes periodic reporting and other requirements to keep dispensaries from becoming complacent at any time during the two-year approval cycle.
From the time entrepreneurs consider opening a low-THC cannabis business and throughout the business operation, they need to obtain support from a Florida attorney who knows the current laws and remains up-to-date on legislative changes. To examine the ins and outs of this new business, call National Cannabis Law Firm at 844-WEED-LAW.