Lawmaker wants to make it easier for 'ganjapreneur's' in Florida

Push to expand medical marijuana business

State Senator Jeff Brandes wants to spread more of the green around in Florida's medical marijuana industry.

"Using the existing system now looks like we created a state run cartel," Brandes said.

Currently in Florida, only seven medical marijuana licenses have been issued for an industry that is expected to grow exponentially with the passage of Amendment 2 in November.

"You need a new regulatory structure because you're talking about tens of thousands of potential patients," Brandes said.

Brandes filed a bill last week (SB 614) that would allow individual licenses for growing, dispensing, processing and delivering...eliminating the current laws requiring that a licensee do it all.

"I think it's important that we realize that we have cut out thousands of people from participating in this market," Brandes said.

While Brandes' bill encourages "ganjapreneurs" the bill would limit the number of dispensaries in the state to one per 25,000 residents in each county. 

But one of the more controversial aspects of the bill would prevent people from growing their own plants.  Something that is allowed by most states that have approved medical marijuana.

"I think at the end of the day you put forth proposals that will pass the house and the senate.  And I don't think homegrow will pass the house, senate or this governor," Brandes said.

The bill would include sales tax which many will likely disagree with, but Brandes says other states that don't charge a sales tax usually hide the tax in other fees.  Brandes would like to see much of that money used for research and treatment.

It also allows smokeable products and expands the conditions for which medical marijuana could be prescribed for.  

Under Amendment 2, lawmakers have until July to come up with rules for the industry.  Brandes' bill is one of a handful being submitted for the upcoming legislative session.  He says he sees more open minds for marijuana in Tallahassee then ever before.

"I think that there's really hardly a stronger signal that you can get than 71% of the voting public in the state of Florida," Brandes said.

© 2018 WTSP-TV


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