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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida's new marijuana potential prompts flurry of interest


Pot mapA tropical plant farmer in Gainesville is hoping marijuana will be the crop that finally helps him make money.

An orchid grower in Homestead has already researched the best machines to extract the oil from the low-THC cannabis to make it available to patients. A vegetable farmer in Highlands County says he’s got the money, the greenhouses and the technology, so all he needs is the security cameras and armed guards.

And at the Florida Medical Cannabis Association, the phone is ringing off the hook from vendors, distributors and investors who want in on Florida’s expected new crop.

This flash of interest was ignited by Florida legislators last week when they passed a bill on the final day of session opening the door to a low-THC strain of medical marijuana to treat people suffering from epileptic seizures, muscle spasms and cancer.

But a last-minute amendment to the bill (SB 1030), which Gov. Rick Scott has promised to sign into law, will keep a tight lid on growers wanting to cash in on the medical marijuana business. The amendment limits the number of growers to just five, parsed by geography in five different regions of the state.

And the bill requires that only those growers who have been in business continuously for 30 years and have inventories of 400,000 or more plants would qualify to compete for the five regional permits. That means only 21 of the hundreds of nurseries in Florida meet those strict requirements, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture.

“Is 30 years an arbitrary number? Probably, but it’s a first step,” said Ben Bolusky, CEO of the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association, whose organization helped to develop the amendment. Story here. 

MAP: Nurseries with inventories of more than 400,000 plants and who have been operating in Florida for 30 years who qualify to be distributors of low-THC cannabis.


[Last modified: Friday, May 9, 2014 8:04am]

    

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