They came Friday for an anticipated high — of medical marijuana creating a new industry in South Florida with opportunities for jobs and investment.
Some 200 people crowded into CannaEd Day Boca Raton, most taking notes on how they could grow medical marijuana, distribute it or start a dispensary for patients to buy the prescribed pot.
"It's going to become an important industry," predicted Leon Martin of Royal Palm Beach, who came to the one-day conference to find out the rules — or at least what is known so far — about opening a medical marijuana shop.
Alexander Cepeda of Parkland went to the one-day conference to find out what he needs to do to become a certified "budtender," a person who helps patients select their medicinal ganja. "It's going to provide a lot of economic opportunities," he said.
Gov. Rick Scott this month signed the so-called "Charlotte's Web" medical marijuana law legalizing growth, processing, distribution and sale of a noneuphoric variety of cannabis for a narrow range of ailments. But for the new industry to really take off, leaders of the Florida Cannabis Coalition said 60 percent of Florida voters need to approve Amendment 2 in November, expanding Florida's legal medical marijuana trade to include other forms of pot to treat more conditions.
Polls show wide support for the amendment to the Florida constitution, said Tom Quigley, CEO of the coalition who first got interested in the issue when he wanted to invest in legal marijuana operations.
"Things are changing very rapidly," he said, noting that most of Friday's attendees were interested in the business aspect of legalizing medical marijuana.
Carlos Hermida of Tampa, who studied entrepreneurship and earned an MBA from Florida Atlantic University, sees himself in the vanguard of a new industry. He learned how to grow medicinal marijuana in California, where it's legal, and has taught classes on pot planting.
"This is the future," he said. "If it doesn't happen now, it's going to happen."
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