Talk of changing the marijuana policies in Florida, come this voting season, is bringing thousands of the nation’s legal pot advocates and professionals to the Sunshine State for the spring Marijuana Business Conference.
Nearly half of all US states have some type of medical marijuana program in place, so what’s drawing such a mass to Florida? “It has nothing to do with the climate or the attractions,” said Chris Walsh, editorial director of Marijuana Business Daily, a publication that sponsors the Marijuana Business Conference. “There’s a lot of excitement about the Florida market.”
As the third most populous state in the country, Florida opening access to medical marijuana for qualified patients, poses a huge opportunity for companies looking for to expand their presence in the cannabis market and for researchers in search of new patients. Companies showed their hopefulness at the conference, marketing everything from growing supplies to child-proof packaging.
According to a law already in place, medical marijuana should be available in Florida later this year. But, for Florida’s market to become one of the biggest in the country, as it has the potential to do, the current state law would have to change. This November, Florida voters will decide whether or not cancer, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis should be included on the approved list of conditions for medical marijuana, a choice that will have a very significant impact on the future of Florida’s market.
John Morgan is a multimillionaire trial lawyer who worked on a similar initiative in 2014. Though that measure failed, he is hopeful that the support from Democrats and millennials will help the 2016 measure pass. Morgan spoke of the past initiatives that have failed at the Florida polls.
“We gave these jokers their chance tice,” he said, “and they failed us twice.” While Morgan is hopeful that the measure will be successful, he acknowledged at the Marijuana Business Conference last month that, if the measure does not pass, it will be because of money.
Amendment 2, while supported by younger voting groups and a good chunk of Florida Democrats, has seen opposition from very wealthy Floridians. Mel Sembler, a Republican donor from St. Petersburg, has pledged to raise up to $10 million to kill the 2016 amendment. On the other hand, Morgan has donated as much as $6.8 million of his own money in support of the initiative.
Regardless of the opposition, there is no denying that the marijuana industry means money. As one of the fastest growing industries in American history, economists expect the marijuana industry to generate as much as $8.6 billion in retail sales by 2019 if big players like Florida and Ohio legalize medical marijuana this year.
“This is an industry like any other,” Walsh promised. “There’s a perception in states that haven’t legalized that it’s a bunch of hippies walking around and that product is being sold on the show floor. That’s not what this is,” he said. For more information regarding the prospect of medical marijuana in Florida, [Click Here].