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Florida Licensing Fees Continue Upward Trend

Florida Licensing Fees Continue Upward Trend

It seems as though Florida governor Ron DeSantis is making good on his previously-stated opinion that anyone wanting to conduct legal medical marijuana trade in the state should be charged “an arm and a leg” as licensing fees continue to increase. This could quite conceivably turn this opportunity for private enterprise into an elite privilege enjoyed only by the already rich and successful.

New Rules, New Fees

The Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU) recently published new rules for applying to set up a medical marijuana treatment center (MMTC), which coincided with an increase in fees for the 22 additional licenses up for grabs by entrepreneurs.

The new rules were anticipated by medical marijuana advocates, as the demand for medical marijuana treatment has far outstripped supply. However, the further increase in the non-refundable application fee was not. In 2015, the application fee was $60,000. In the new emergency rule for MMTC applications, the application fee is $146,000. This is only to submit an application and does not include any of the cost if the license is granted. This represents a more than 110% increase in only seven years.

Additionally, the annual renewal fee has been increased to $1.3m from $60,000, making it seriously expensive to stay in business in the medical marijuana market in the State of Florida.

Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU)

Milking It

Of course, Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis has already made it clear that, firstly, he believes that anyone wishing to trade in medical marijuana (MMJ) should pay a premium and, secondly, that due to its odor, marijuana should still be criminalized.

From the massive increase in the application fee, it is quite evident that DeSantis’ has an enabling effect on those decision-makers who have a direct influence on the licensing fees for MMJ. The net result is the chance for policy-makers to milk the high demand for MMTC for as much as they can possibly get.

Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis

Knock-On Effect

For many decades, the idea of a society in which marijuana could be freely grown, used and traded was an idealist’s dream. The fact that marijuana of any kind is easy to grow, safe to harvest, safe to use, and widely in demand makes it an ideal crop for anyone with humble beginnings and represents an idea of success and self-empowerment, regardless of financial or social status. It was expected to become the poor man’s road to riches.

With the marijuana market becoming more complex, with unique and high-maintenance strains of increasing potency, it became clear that perhaps not everyone would be able to make their fortune off marijuana, but it was still an opportunity that almost anyone would be able to access, with a little financial help and some careful planning.

Once legal medical marijuana became a reality, the application fee was steep but not completely unachievable for the average middle-class entrepreneur. However, with the increasing fees, the MMJ market has been pushed out of the reach of the average person and now sits firmly in the province of those large, established companies who want to expand their business across state lines into Florida. There is very little chance that an individual entrepreneur or aspirant small business owner could ever secure the capital to access this opportunity.

And again, the rich become richer through financially elite opportunities, while the poor have one more way to uplift themselves whipped out from under their noses.

Recreational Marijuana Use

As the bid to legalize marijuana for recreational use has failed in bureaucratic processes, activists tried and also failed in 2020 and 2022 to put the bid before Florida voters. The next bid began in August 2022 and so far has gained over 50,000 signatures. To gain a vote, the petition needs 891,589 signatures.

If this bid to legalize the recreational use of marijuana succeeds, it may once again shift the odds in favor of the little guy. Marijuana growers, traders, and users may still see the sprouting of small, independently-owned businesses that benefit the owner directly and allow them to improve their own circumstances.

In the words of the eternal optimist, one can only hope.

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