New anti-pot video claims Amendment 2 allows ‘5,000’ marijuana shops in Florida

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If Florida passes a constitutional amendment in November to legalize medical marijuana, opponents of the measure say the Sunshine State could soon be swamped with more pot shops than McDonald’s, 7-Eleven and Starbucks combined.

That’s the message from a new video — titled “5,000” — produced by the Vote No on 2 campaign, which claims that if Amendment 2 passes, the door could open for as many as 5,000 marijuana dispensaries across the state.

The group says the video is the third in a series of advertisements “setting the record straight on what Amendment 2 really means for Floridians.”

“Amendment 2 backers are trying to scam Floridians into thinking this amendment would not lead to rampant marijuana access,” said Vote No on 2 Campaign spokesperson Christina Johnson in a statement Thursday morning. “The fact is, at least 2,000 pot shops would pop up in Florida, but that number could be even higher.

“Marijuana legalization proponents have admitted publicly that Amendment 2 could lead to as many as 5,000 pot shops taking root in our state opponent,” Johnson added. “It’s time to put a stop to those who continue to fool Florida voters into thinking this is ‘medical’ marijuana when it’s nothing more than recreational use pot.”

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Last month, the Vote No on 2 Campaign released two web videos, “Search” and “Three Things.”

The videos examine California’s experience with medical marijuana, and highlighted the number of shops, the varieties sold and proliferation of what some critics point to as kid-friendly candy-like pot edibles, the heightened potency of the genetically-modified marijuana, and the ease with which it is obtained.

Supporters of Amendment 2 insist there will be a difference between smoking marijuana for recreational use and using marijuana derivatives to alleviate the effects of some illnesses, including childhood epilepsy. They say that lawmakers will be in control of the development and number of medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state.

“It will be up to the Florida Legislature and local governments to determine how many retail facilities will be allowed to serve the patients of our state,” said Bianca Garza, spokeswoman for United for Care, which supports Amendment 2. “We hope to work with elected leaders to ensure that patients are served appropriately and that city and county law enforcement agencies are comfortable with the medical marijuana facilities in their communities.”

The notion that Florida will follow California, which adopted a vague and loose medical marijuana law 20 years ago and now has borderline illegal pot shops proliferating in the state, is false, United for Care officials say.

Many states have passed more carefully crafted laws that prohibit the glut of pot shops, medical marijuana supporters say.

Florida’s proposed amendment has a multi-step process written into it that ensures the state will not have the same problems vexing California. The rules would be decided by the state’s Department of Health and the Legislature, along with some local governmental control.

“In reality, the comparison is detached from reality,” said Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United for Care. “Florida’s Amendment 2 would be one of the strictest in the nation and medical marijuana would only be provided to seriously debilitated patients when recommended by an actual physician.

“California has no such provision,” he said.

He said Vote No on 2 is “devaluing HIV/AIDS patients, telling patients who qualify, who likely cannot drive, they should have to travel great distances to obtain their medicine, and outright lying in their attempt to compare Florida’s Amendment 2 to California’s medical marijuana program.”

Two years ago, the Florida Legislature enacted a law creating a framework to provide marijuana-based medication to treat a limited number of ailments. The approved marijuana extract is low grade and cannot be smoked, and will not cause the euphoric effects typically associated with marijuana use.

As a result of the law, five medical marijuana grow houses have been authorized in the state, and already are cultivating crops. Dispensing the medication to eligible patients is scheduled to begin before the proposed referendum is voted on in November.

If approved, the change could expand current laws, permit a higher grade of cannabis as well as expanding the patient base to those with a wider range of ailments.

Vote No on 2 organizers counter those arguments with a pair of high-profile reports:

— A Journal of Drug Policy Annual Report, which says only 3 percent of medical marijuana users had conditions like cancer and AIDS. The report noted that the average medical marijuana user is a 32-year old male with a history of drug and alcohol use.

The San Francisco Journal story which says “there are more pot shops than Starbucks,” as well as citing the 2016 Florida Impact Estimating Conference, showing “the state would have 2,000 pot shops in Florida,” which is more than Starbucks, McDonald’s and 7-Eleven’s combined.

Phil Ammann

Phil Ammann is a Tampa Bay-area journalist, editor and writer. With more than three decades of writing, editing, reporting and management experience, Phil produced content for both print and online, in addition to founding several specialty websites, including HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government, entertainment reviews, marketing and an advice column. Phil has served as editor and production manager for Extensive Enterprises Media since 2013 and lives in Tampa with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul. He can be reached at phil[email protected]


6 comments

  • Victor Edwards

    June 9, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Change is hard to accept for many individuals on numbers of levels and substances, whatever they are, is just another. Lets not forget that alcohol has killed more people, ruined more lives and families, careers ,etc.etc…. Acceptance is the key! What ever the down sides, which do exist, it doesn’t come close to the down sides of so many other available substances currently flooding our society. I’d like to see a count of the amount of retail facilities that sell alcohol in any and all of its forms. Come on people, get over it….. One problem is that the old school administration which fought against it for years would have to eat there words if they supported it. They are not going to lose face even if they want to chage their views and opinions. Hopefully they will be out of the picture and the process before to long, for whatever reason. Probably death or retirement. I’m not particular….

  • Matthew Scott Cunningham

    June 9, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    with 20 million and 100 million tourist a year. Floridian will need far more.

  • Steve

    June 9, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    Sooo because some people will abuse “medical Marijuana” we should outlaw it?? So let’s outlaw alcohol, pain medication, ALL medication, cars, driving, the military, police,donuts, pizza, etc yes people suck and abuse many things that are legal.. You people against are morons!!!!

  • Truth be Told

    June 10, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    Currently, there are six licensed growers here in Florida under a tightly controlled anti-free market program constructed by Representative Matt Gaetz and Senator Rob Bradley. Cost Farms last legislative cycle dropped over $369,000 dollars with Gaetz, Bradley, Scott, and committee members who killed the amendment to expand to just 20 growers. Do you really think that these six licensed growers, with lobbyists like Brian Ballard, Billy Rubin, Ron Parks, Souther Strategy Group, and others are going to say “Sure! Lets expand the market and allow competition!” Come on. The only way for there to be thousands of dispensaries and cultivation centers in Florida is if Tallahassee allowed this to happen via legislation. Sine Tallahassee lobbyists and powerful connected investors are aligned with the growers it will be a tough fight to expand. There is nothing in Amendment Two that says there will be a Free Market. It falls to law makers, and Amendment Two will be rolled into the existing program. Main stream media doesn’t get this and reports as if it will happen. Read the present program folks. There will not be 2,000 or 5,000 or event a 1,000 the first or second year. There will be lawsuits based on the law maker imposed oligarchy that favors their political friends. But Gaetz and Bradley have ensured that the rank and file Floridian will be omitted from this market. I suppose if you could give Gaetz a or Bradley $25,000 they might be willing to listen.

  • Truth be Told

    June 10, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    Currently, Florida’s cannabis market is monopolized by five growers, but this will not always be the case with advocate lawyers like Mike Minardi leading the charge. Representative Matt Gaetz is moving on and running for Congress, and Senator Rob Bradley is growing tired of battling the advocate community. Persistence, strength, and determination will institute change. Hopefully, those changes will lead towards people of color, women, young and old entrepreneurs’ bringing in fresh ideas into the cannabis community. Florida cannot be just about corporate control unless we, the advocate community, allow this to happen. I suspect there will be lawsuits post successful passage of Amendment Two forcing law makers to expand the market. Until then, let us examine the opportunities’.
    So what are the typical startup cultivation costs? Does it require millions of dollars? The answers are yes and no. The average cultivation startup costs according to CannaBusiness Marijuana Business Factbook 2014 are 53% of surveyed cultivators spending between $10,000 and $50,000 with only 10% spending more than a million dollars. A small businessman will not out compete the large well-funded organizations like Costa Farms, Alpha Foliage, and others. Small business cultivation should instead focus on boutique style business specializing in those strains high in THCV, CBD, CBN, and other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, which are medicinal, but either take too long to grow (sativas), are finicky, or they are difficult to source. Let the large grower’s race to the bottom producing Wal-Mart style fast growing strains with plants produced by the thousands. Focus on unique strains, provide focused customer service, hold free cannabinoid/terpene/flavonoid education classes, have a wide selection of strains on hand, network with other growers helping each other by providing missing strains, and maintain the purity of the genetics. Cannabis business should be about inclusion, and helping each other travel through life.
    What are the average annual revenues by cannabis business type? Cannabusiness reports dispensary revenue between $1 and $1.2 million a year, wholesale cultivation between $850,000 and $950,000, infused products companies between $375,000 to $475,000, testing labs between $650,000 to $750,000, and ancillary businesses between $125,000 to $175,000 a year. These numbers provide a general idea of revenue, and vary according to business model. Unnecessary government regulations such as requirements for a full-time medical director and chemist, five million dollar performance bond, and $65,000 application fee have been constructed, mainly by Representative Matt Gaetz, to limit and stifle small business thus constructing a platform where only large corporations can enter the market. In most states the application fees are between $5,000 and $25,000, there are no requirements for a medical director or chemist (Patient doctors provide the evaluation and third party testing provides oversight.), nor is there a requirement for a $5 million dollar performance bond. These artificial requirements and barriers do not exist in the pharmaceutical opioid market (44 people die each day according to the CDC…cannabis zero!), so why should they exist in the cannabis market?
    Why should there be a free market in Florida? The answer is that according to the Marijuana Fact Book only 5% of current users of cannabis would remain loyal to their black market source if licensed entrepreneurs’ could compete in pricing and inventory. “The benefits of tested, labeled and reliable products – coupled with the safe and comfortable environment of a legal retail shop” seem to be winning in states that have gone legal. When government imposes over reaching regulatory rules requiring a cadre of personnel to be on staff, huge performance bond fees, exorbitant application fees, then how would a business legally complying with those rules ever expect to be competitive with the black market? In reality a free market, licensed entrepreneurs’, a diversity of owners and operators, who are educated and believe in cannabis as medicine, will develop means to be competitive, they will innovate, identify bad habits and practices, and the market will evolve as it should be within a free society. As long as Representative Gaetz and Senator Bradley are picking the winners and the losers a healthy cannabis market will not exist.
    Steve DeAngelo of Harborside Health Center in California stated “One of the very most basic of human rights is the right to be healthy and to take care of your health. Nature in all of her wisdom gave us a cure for every ailment there is, and every human being has a nature given, a god given, a goddess given right to use the plants that nature has given us.” I agree with Steve. Corporate America does not have a sovereign right over our health and well-being, nor have we granted permission to Representatives and Senators to replace our hard fought for democracy, and free enterprise, with a system of feudalism where law makers acting as Lords and Masters pick the winners and the losers.
    Thomas Jefferson is quoted as saying “I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” Wise words…advocates will not rest until we have freedom to grow, educate, take back command of our health and well-being, and share our experiences, love, and guidance with patients.

    • Steve

      June 10, 2016 at 10:17 pm

      Thank you for saying exactly what I feel. Yes we need to pass Amendment 2, but we are not done! Every American should have the right to grow their own marijuana (for medicine or responsible recreation). Yes every American should be able to afford entry into this growing industry. 5 million dollar bonds are showing prejudice towards average citizens entry. This needs to be mainstream!!

Comments are closed.


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