Medical marijuana is nearly law in Florida. It will appear on the ballot there in November, and polls suggest voters are in a mood to pass it.
With new laws come new money, and with medical pot more than most. Dozens of businesses have been popping up in Florida in recent months with the hopes of joining the green rush early.
According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, more than 60 businesses have incorporated in the Sunshine State since last summer using names that suggest their creators intend to go into the weed business. The vast majority of those were filed since February.
“It’s growing exponentially,” said Ken Kavenaugh, a video production entrepreneur who created Marijuana Farmacy LLC with his wife, Cynthia. “Every Tom, Dick, and Harry would love to get into it, but it’s certainly not nearly as simple as some may think.”
The companies that have incorporated appear to be planning to provide everything from cultivation and equipment supply to medical treatment and retail sales. Lawyers, security professionals, financial consultants, and more all seem to be gearing up for the coming tide of new green – cash and weed.
Most of the action seems to be driven by money. Many of the businesses were founded by people with little or no background in marijuana or healthcare.
“Logic would dictate that there should be sufficient demand,” said Craig Frank, president of the newly formed Florida Cannabis Industry Association Corp. “So naturally people looking for opportunities may be looking to start a company.”
The best chance for MMJ in Florida will be on the ballot in November. That campaign, led by Orlando personal injury lawyer John Morgan, would adopt a traditional medical marijuana program with broad access to patients suffering from severe conditions.
Sixty percent of the state’s voters must approve a ballot initiative before it can become law. Recent polls show more than 70 percent of Florida voters support the MMJ initiative. With that kind of support, it’s likely to pass.
A competing proposal in the state legislature would legalize only a very limited form of MMJ known as CBD oil. This extract is helpful only to a very few patients but is favored by conservatives because it doesn’t contain THC and therefore can’t get patients high.
The second approach wouldn’t create much of a market, but the possibilities under the first approach are substantial, said Taylor West, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association.
“Our rough, back-of-the-envelope estimates project that a medical [marijuana] industry in Florida regulated in a similar way to Colorado could do about $780 million in sales a year,” West said. “That’s based on what we’ve seen in other states and adjusted for Florida’s population. That would likely make it the second-largest legal market in the country, after California.”