Rolando Vazquez Esq.

In Florida, the application for a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC) was released on September 20th, 2017. Licensed medical marijuana treatment centers are authorized to cultivate, process, transport and dispense medical marijuana. MMTC’s are the only businesses in Florida authorized to dispense and deliver medical marijuana to qualified patients and legal representatives. Some areas in the application are exactly the same as the Low THC application.  Nonetheless, the application has its differences.

One important difference is the page count limit imposed on the new applicants. This requirement limits the applicant’s ability to illustrate their uniqueness, creativeness and capabilities, amongst other trades and characteristics.

The application defines and will award four contingent licenses. Once the registry reaches 100,000 patients the contingent licenses will be able to exercise their status. Ergo, no application process will occur when the patient registry reaches 100,000. The next application process will trigger once the patient count reaches 200,000. Prospective applicants for the subsequent rounds must be cognizant of this rule, since it could affect their approach.

Applicants must submit a non-refundable check of $60,830.00, which is an increase from the previous application fee of $60,063.00. Further, the program changed its name to The Office of Medical Marijuana Use, previously known as the Office of Compassionate Use.

One license is set-aside for a group of Black Farmers. This particular language has already invited a lawsuit. Other licenses will give preference to citrus farmers. The later is a product of great lobbying!

The Department of Health (“DOH”) issued an evaluation rubric to compliment the scorecard. Applicants will aim to place in the category 5 responses for all sections. Part II of the application cannot reference individuals by name, in order to ensure fairness in the newly implemented blind grading system.

Tiebreaker language was also included in the application. Certified financials, business structure, diversity plan and accountability-operations, seem to be of paramount concern to the DOH, since these areas will determine the tie breaker in the event two candidates score the same.

Naturally, the world wonders what the business perspective entails! Companies making the investment to be competitive in the application process will spend $250,000 – $350,000. The foregoing amounts are budgeted for legal fees, consulting fees, data analysis, non-refundable deposits on land and retail locations, retainer fee’s for key operators, amongst many other expenses. Post- license, the build out phase could cost 7-10 million, but requiring additional funds in order to furnish proof to the DOH that the applicant has the ability to maintain the operations for 2 years. In the event applicants want to make a timely expansion into all 25 dispensing location, approximately 30 million would be required. Low range financial projections exist; however, the state of Florida is embracing high standards, and are inviting applicants to operate at standards set for medical laboratories. As a natural consequence, the release of the application has sparked a chord in the souls of those with entrepreneurial spirits.

Floridian entrepreneurs now have a cannabis investment opportunity, where before they had to be willing to invest in another state. But what should a potential investor look for in an investment opportunity?  “When kicking the tires,” an investor should assess the board of directors, shareholders, and employees.

A strong signal for success is indicted by the adequacy of the board members. At minimum, experiences, innovativeness, professionalism, ethnicity, and ambition should be found in the characteristics of the board members. Shareholders equate to financial backing, and better financial backing should equate to a timely and proper expansion of your brand.

Key operators, such as your cultivation, extraction, medical and pharmaceutical teams, need to have strong resumes, a good track record professionally and bring uniqueness to the industry in some fashion.

The foregoing only illustrates a few of the ingredients found in a successful cannabis venture. I will express my other related thoughts on ‘ingredients for success’ in a subsequent article.

On a final note, some investors do not know the important differences between the low THC application and the current application process under Senate Bill 8A (SB-8A). Some of the applicants are confused as to the applicable rules. We strongly recommend that investors hire expert cannabis consultants for the application process. GreenAcre Consulting Team is the leading consulting firm in Florida for the Cannabis Industry.