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Will Florida Set Southern Standard for Weed?
Florida might be the first Southern state that legalizes medical marijuana; voters in the Sunshine State will weigh in on Amendment 2 later this month.
The battle will no doubt be fiercely contested on both sides of the issue, with each looking to demonstrate their own points of view. Despite the outcome in Florida, however, a few more states will almost certainly pass their own versions of marijuana legislation over the coming years.
The Florida Debate
While noted Florida lawyer John Morgan helped raise $3.5 million to get the marijuana measure passed, opponents of Amendment 2 have raised their own $3.2 million to help put it down. However, Morgan didn’t help the cause when a video was leaked last week of him appearing visibly impaired at a medical marijuana and declaring on stage that he “got f*cked up, but now I’m back here.”
The most recent poll released shows support for Amendment 2 reaching approximately 57 percent, but a constitutional amendment needs 60 percent voter approval in order to pass.
If approved, Florida would join 23 other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing medical marijuana. It’s also expected that Florida would take the same approach as most of these states and limit which diseases a doctor can recommend medical marijuana for, including AIDS, cancer and multiple sclerosis.
Supporters of Amendment 2 have also cited a study released in August that shows legal marijuana has indirect benefits in reducing overdose deaths. The findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that between 1999 and 2010, states that legalized medical marijuana had 25 percent fewer deaths from painkiller overdoses. However, researchers could not identify why exactly this was the case.
The Income Potential
It’s expected that legalizing medical marijuana could bring millions to Florida, but that’s a drop in the bucket compared to what the legal pot industry could be generating throughout the U.S. in just a few short years.
A report released last week by Greenwave Advisors found that this industry could have $35 billion in revenue by 2020…if it’s legalized at the federal level. At that rate, the weed industry would be raking in roughly the same amount of money that the confectionary industry ($34 billion) and the newspaper publishing industry ($38 billion) see each year.
Not only will legal marijuana bring in more revenue in terms of sales; it could also bring in money directly related to pot education and training. Last February, Jeremy Bufford launched Florida’s first-ever marijuana university.
Located in Tampa, Medical Marijuana University offers a one-month course that gives students a crash course in all aspects of the medical marijuana industry. Bufford is charging $499 per month for the course and is currently seeking $10 million in funding to add four more classrooms, 15 treatment centers and a marijuana lab for growing the pot plants (assuming it’s approved).
“We’re doing something innovative. It’s education oriented,” Bufford explained.
“We’re not trying to set up a shop where we’re selling drugs. We’re trying to educate people.”
Additional Reading: Marijuana — Is it Addictive…Dangerous?.