Seminole Chamber tackles complex implementation of Medical Marijuana Amendment

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On Thursday morning, the Seminole County Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted a panel of Experts to discuss the implementation of Amendment 2, or the state constitutional amendment making medical marijuana legal in the state of Florida. The event highlighted the complexities tied to amendment 2 and how it could effect communities.

The panel consisted of local government Attorney Wade Vose, marijuana industry consultant Louis Rotundo, and State Representative Jason Brodeur, a former chairman of Health and Human Services Committee, who still represents Seminole County in the legislature. The discussion was moderated by Diane Trees, Host of WUCF Metro Outlook.

One of the first questions asked to the panel was regarding the implementation of the law and it’s transition from the state to the local levels.

“What we would really like to see out of the legislature, is to see them acknowledge the power of our local governments, the Mayors and Commissioners, the folks you call up when you have a problem, that they would be able to deal with the problems on the local level instead of Tallahassee where they’re dealing with the pot shop across the street.” said Vose.

There have been many questions regarding the jurisdiction of the law and possible conflicts on the federal level where the schedule one drug could land Florida residents in trouble with the DEA.

“How do we put guardrails on something, that if someone on the federal level decided to enforce existing laws, would send everyone to jail?” asked Brodeur, citing numerous questions about the law including transportation adding “You’ve got a kid making deliveries for $11 dollars an hour and he gets pulled over. That drug trafficking.

Municipalities are dealing with implementation a number of ways. Many local cities have placed a moratorium on dispensaries until more information about the distribution of the drugs comes forward, while keeping an eye on how other cities handle it’s roll out. Another tactic has been to place dispensaries in industrial areas, which are clear of schools and communities.

Rotundo cited problems with that plan as well saying “Industrial parks in January. It’s dark. You’re going to send a mother with a sick child holding $2,000 into an industrial park to pick up necessary medicine? That’s a bad news story waiting to happen.”

After falling short in 2014, Amendment 2 passed overwhelmingly last year with over 70% of the vote. There have been many entrepreneurs that have approached municipalities around the state about placing medical marijuana dispensaries in their neighborhoods with the hopes that it will turn into a billion dollar industry here in Florida where these possible businesses could flourish. All of the members of the panel questioned the true profitability of the drug with only 3 million potential patients in the state, many who may not ultimately qualify.

Lawmakers at the State and Local levels will continue to work on it’s implementation, which will be an important issues here in Seminole County, a region that has seen it’s standing as a community that is growing high paying jobs coupled with quality public education continue to improve over the last several years.

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