By Marianela Toledo | Florida Watchdog
MIAMI — The medical marijuana industrial-complex is in full swing in Florida.
With the question of legalizing medical marijuana apparently heading to voters on the Nov. 4 ballot, entrepreneurs are popping up in an effort to get in on the ground floor of the movement.
FREE THE WEED: Educational Institutions have flourished around the Sunshine State. They want to train investors on how to open, market and operate a medical marijuana business.
Eighteen medical marijuana companies have registered with the state this year. Medical Marijuana of Brevard LLC, Medical Marijuana Business Lawyers LLC and Medical Marijuana Centers of Florida Inc., are among the first positioning to take advantage of a boom, should Florida voters approve the referendum by a 60 percent margin.
Some, like Daniel Curtis, founder of the The Florida Medical Marijuana Treatment Center Institute, are letting the others “mine for the gold,” opting instead to sell the “pick axes” by offering courses and seminars to those who want to jump into the medical-marijuana business.
His courses will focus on the regulatory environment that will shape the market for growers, processors and retailers.
Curtis will host a regulatory seminar at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the iconic Adrienne Arsht Center downtown.
The medical-marijuana referendum, if approved, would allow for cultivation, purchase, possession and use of medical marijuana to treat certain medical conditions when prescribed by a physician.
Curtis said he’s optimistic the law will pass, noting that state lawmakers already are laying the ground work for the regulatory framework for what could be a billion-dollar legal industry.
Amy Baker, coordinator of the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, told WLRN growers may get an agricultural tax exemption. There could be tax exemptions for food products or common home remedies, as well.
While the Office of Economic and Demographic Research of Florida says anywhere from 417,252 to 1.3 million may qualify for medical marijuana, it’s no surprise to Curtis, who told FloridaWatchdog.org a steady stream of lawyers, investors and students are signing up for his courses.
Curtis isn’t the only one cashing in on the cannabis.
Since the opening of Cannabis University of Florida in Tampa, seminars costing more than $300 a person offer to “bring a whole new meaning to higher education” have sold out, according to its website.
Other companies, such as The Cannabis Career Institute, founded in 2009, plans to offer “how-to” seminars in Jacksonville, Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.
If voters approve the measure they can expect more laws to follow.
Already lawmakers are looking to regulate “Charlotte’s Web,” a weaker strain of cannabis that is said to help some children. Lawmakers also are looking a creating a compassionate-use registry, writing guidelines to authorize dispensaries and regulating cultivation, manufacture and distribution of the plant.
California was the first state to adopt a medical marijuana program in 1996, and was followed by Alaska, Washington and Oregon in 1998. Maine joined the party in 1999. From 2000 and 2013, more states followed suit, including Colorado, Nevada, Hawaii, Montana, Vermont, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Michigan, Arizona, Washington, D.C., New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Illinois and New Hampshire.
Contact Marianela Toledo at Marianela.Toledo@FloridaWatchdog.org or on Twitter @mtoledoreporter