Florida’s medical marijuana law has been in disarray for several years. Florida Statute Section 381.986 has been challenged in court and has been deemed unconstitutional in many respects; and the rules in Chapter 64-4 promulgated by the Office of Medical Marijuana Use (a division of the Department of Health) have been challenged in administrative proceedings on various grounds. Fortunately, there have been some events that are now helping move things along: (1) the DOH has settled lawsuits that were holding up implementation of the law; (2) several bills passed in the 2019 Legislative Session that addressed some of the deficiencies in the law; and (3) the Department of Health is going back to the drawing board to revamp the rules for applying for a medical marijuana treatment center license. The expectation from Governor Desantis is that 7 more medical marijuana treatment center licenses will be approved by the end of 2019; however, this is assuming there are not additional challenges filed after the new rules are promulgated. This complex and capricious legal framework has created various legal and business obstacles for medical marijuana businesses. That’s where we come in. We are your reliable legal and business consultant that will help you navigate through this complex legal terrain and ensure that you are aware of all the risks along the way.
- Marijuana Application and Licensing – Florida law provides for a fully vertically integrated license, which means the applicant must show the expertise in growing, processing, and distributing marijuana. The application to operate as a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (the name of such a vertically-integrated company) is complex and competitive. We will help you through the entire process including partnering with a nursery through Letters of Intent, Partnership Agreement and/or Buy-out Agreement; acquisition of the necessary real estate through Real Estate Purchase Agreements; hiring the experienced team through Letters of Intent and/or Employment Agreements; engaging with a third party testing lab through a Letter of Intent; obtaining the necessary marketing information; obtaining the zoning approvals through the various counties and municipalities; and more.
- Property Acquisition – Florida Statute Section 381.986 preempts the counties/municipalities authority to regulate the cultivation, processing, and delivery of marijuana by Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers in many respects. However, Florida Statute provides for various restrictions on the locations of such operations; additionally, the Florida Statute permits counties and municipalities to significantly regulate the dispensing of marijuana by either (1) banning it within the boundaries of that municipality; or (2) regulating it no more restrictively than pharmacies licensed under chapter 465. If you are interested in acquiring or leasing property for your Medical Marijuana Treatment Center, we will help you find the a property that complies with state/county/municipality law and we will assist with negotiating the transaction.
- Company Formation – There are a lot of variables to consider when forming your company. We will assist with ownership type, ownership structure, and preparing formation documents.
- Reporting/Testing Compliance – Florida Statute Section 381.986 requires that a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center test the processed marijuana using a medical marijuana testing laboratory. Additionally, the Medical Marijuana Treatment Center must contract with a marijuana testing laboratory to perform audits on the medical marijuana treatment center’s standard operating procedures, testing records, and samples. Since the Office of Medical Marijuana Use (a division of the Department of Health) has not promulgated rules for certifying a facility as a “marijuana testing laboratory”, it is up to the Medical Marijuana Treatment Center to determine which facility it should trust with its third party testing. We will assist you with ensuring that your operations comply with all reporting and testing requirements.
- Tax Compliance, Bookkeeping, Accounting – Like any business, tax compliance, bookkeeping and accounting are key to understanding your business as well as complying with legal requirements. This is even more important for a marijuana business due to 26 U.S. Code Section 280e, which prohibits marijuana companies from taking any deductions or credits other than a deduction for “Cost of Goods Sold”. We will assist you with structuring your entities properly and implementing proper accounting systems to ensure that you are maximizing your potential deduction under Section 280e.
- Employment Matters – Like any business, there are various employment matters that must be properly dealt with. We assist with various employment matters including offer letters, equity compensation, separation agreements, and litigating employment disputes.
- Commercial Litigation – Most businesses have to deal with some amount of litigation. But, litigating a case in the marijuana industry has its own set of complications and challenges. We are experienced and aggressive litigators.