How to Obtain a License to Grow Cannabis in Florida

In 2016, when Florida legalized marijuana, marijuana growing operations were officially stamped as being part of Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers. Thus, to have started growing marijuana in Florida on a large-scale, or any scale, you must have also opened a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center. (MMTC). It’s safe to say that to obtain a license to grow cannabis in Florida comes with a fair share of diligence, honesty and paperwork.

Cannabis growing in Florida in a greenhouse.Cannabis growing in Florida in a greenhouse.

Cannabis Growing in Florida

A Little Legal Background – FYI

Nowadays, you have two options when wanting to obtain a license to grow cannabis in Florida, and legal entities – MMTCs – is one route. You can apply for it online. Not only will this authorize you to grow cannabis, but to possess, sell, and transport cannabis products as well. So, if you want to grow in Florida, you can go this route of obtaining your licenses from the Florida Department of Health.

And, on Apr 27, 2020, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services launched the state’s online Hemp Cultivation Licensing Portal, allowing the public to apply for licenses to grow. Note that growing medicinal marijuana at home is illegal in Florida as of yet, but the state does allow you to apply for your hemp cultivation license, which means it will have to be controlled and on a large-scale.

Although there aren’t a lot of licenses available for new treatment centers in Florida, fortunately, the state is in the process of expanding its program. Additional licenses for treatment centers and grow ops will be awarded every time another 100,000 patients register. You can also use it to manage, renew, and view your current application(s) with the state.

Before Applying for a Permit, Prepare…

Before coming to know how to obtain a license to grow cannabis in Florida, there are certain things you need to know, understand and get in order. The following checklist will help guide you through the process. In the light of preparations to be done in advance to seeking a permit, it will also ensure that you are granted the permit, as opposed to being rejected.

  • Know and be aware that as a licensed cultivator, you will have certain ongoing responsibilities, like reporting crop harvests, maintaining environmental containment, and submitting samples for THC testing.
  • Know all the rules and make sure you comply with them once you get your license.
  • It’s never too early to start thinking about the genetics you will be growing with, or who you will sell your crop to.

If you’re planning to sell cannabis plants in addition to growing them, you will need to register as a nursery. You can do this by contacting the Division of Plant Industry.

  • As part of the permitting process, you are required to complete a background check, which includes fingerprint submission. A full set of fingerprints must be provided to a Live scan service provider. Then subsequently evaluated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for the Responsible person and any Control person(s). You can find a local Live scan service at flhealthsource.gov/bgs-providers.
  • To complete a background check, you must have an ORI number (Originating Agency Identifier) that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has assigned.
  • It’s essential to prepare an environmental containment plan in advance to the application process. To help you with this, a sample environmental containment plan has been prepared and can be found at FDACS.gov/hemp.
  • You need money to get this license, and lots of it!

The Application Process

You have to create an account on FDACS.gov/hemp. A valid email address will be required to validate your user profile. Then, you can submit your Hemp Cultivation Application through FDACS.gov/hemp. The portal’s user-friendly interface provides you with a checklist of steps to enable a quick and easy application process.

When applying, make sure it’s complete and that all information included is accurate and correct. Applicants may obtain property classification and property tax parcel number information from the Florida Department of Revenue website. Save your confirmation email.

Your online Hemp Cultivation Licensing Portal can be accessed at Hemp.FDACS.gov, or on the FDACS hemp webpage. The page also contains a link to an application checklist, so interested growers have the necessary information for a quick and relatively easy application process.

Be on the lookout for communications from FDACS. Once you apply, the agency will start reviewing the application and contact you with updates. If it is complete and no further information is needed, you will receive an email with your license to grow cannabis.

The Cost of a Commercial Growing License in Florida

Florida cannabis licenses don’t come cheap. In fact, they have sold in the past for as much as $67 million. Two Florida cannabis licenses went on sale at the end of 2019. One was listed for $40 million and allowed the owner to operate 30 dispensaries. The other license, listed for about $55 million, allows the holder to operate up to 35 dispensaries.

In Conclusion: Obey the Law, and Grow in Abundance

In the light of the number of cultivation licenses in Florida, they don’t come easy and are therefore extremely valuable. Since the official law of 2019, a mere 14 licenses have been issued in the state in total. A few more additional licenses were awarded as a result of a lawsuit filed against the state Department of Health. Out of 20 license holders today, 13 are actively operating. Don’t let these statistics put you off if you really want to do it.

To be a successful applicant, be sure to know and understand the rules outlined in this article. Once you’re a licensed cannabis grower in the state of Florida, you have certain ongoing responsibilities. These include regularly reporting your anticipated harvest dates and submitting samples for THC testing. Make sure you know and continue to comply with those requirements. Happy growing!

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