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Tallahassee's next lobbying gold rush: cannabis

Marijuana rule hearing

The Betty Easley Conference Center was packed with a Who's Who of Tallahassee lobbyists Monday. Each of them were scouting out prospects at the Department of Health hearing on the rule that will be the template for Florida's foray into medical marijuana. 

Many of those in attendance Monday had not registered yet as executive branch lobbyists. In fact, there is still no category for the "marijuana" industry in the Legislature's lobbyists registry.

But it's a growing industry, literally, and the lobbyists crowded the room -creating a standing room only scene at what is normally a dull rules hearing.

In the audience was Louis Rotundo and Ron Watson ofthe Florida Medical Cannibis Association. Jeff Sharkey and Taylor Biehl of the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida came with their prospective investors too. Clark Smith attended for the contingent of nine lobbyists hired at Southern Strategies by the perceived giant in the industry, Miami-based Costa Farms.

It's not clear where some lobbyists are affiliated. Jorge Chamizo, Dave Roberts, Ron Greenstein and Doug Mannheimer were working but none seem to be registered yet. Steve Schale and Jon Costello are registered for Sanctuary Cannabis, a Weston-based company seeking to develop the product in the Southeast region. John Lockwood is working for MJardin Management, a cannabis grower. Susan Goldstein is working for another Broward-based company, Innovative industries of Pompano.

Justin Sayfie said he has a few prospects he's working on but nothing firm. Jon Moyle represents the Stanley Brothers, who developed the trademarked "Charlotte's Web" in Colorado, and the family working closely with bringing the strain to Florida, Peyton and Holly Moseley of Pensacola.

Even Rep. Doug Holder, R-Sarasota, who is term limited out of office in November, appeared to be scouting out prospects as he roamed in and out of the hearing room Monday with a legal pad of notes. (State law prohibits former legislators from lobbying the legislature for two years but can freely lobby state agencies and other elements of the executive branch.)

Holder said he was in town "just clearing out my office'' but decided to come by. "My constituents have lots of questions,'' he said.


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ed jenkins

The citizens want these people arrested on drug dealing charges for trying to spread their dangerous illegal drugs to our family friendly state.

Capt. William Davis

The only Question I have is: If I( a tax paying voter) am paying your salary, Rep. Holder, Why are you already cleaning out your office when you are supposed to be working until November?


It is beginning to look a lot like tobacco. It is a weed that is being processed, politicized, and commercialized. Now that the money freaks see the green expect full legalization in 2 years. At least it should help empty out the prisons unless they decide to make tobacco illegal.

ed jenkins

The citizens have already decided that they do not want these dangerous illegal drugs in their society where they harm children and lead to worthless lives for adults. The readers have asked that these stories be removed from a once respected hometown paper that should not stoop to the level of printing such stories which cannot be read by families with children who do not want their children exposed to such destructive lifestyles.

Gary Grimes

@edjenkins You do not speak for the citizens. You only speak for yourself.


These people are going to be disappointed when they run the financials on selling Charlottes web. There just isn't very much money in the non euphoric strain.


It is a foot in the door of a very lucrative business model. Think tobacco, alcohol, and prescription drugs. These are recession proof growth industries. Charlottes Web is just the beginning. Colorado and Washington State are our examples for Free Trade Libertarian Capitalism.


Amendment 2 will not get 60% of the vote in Florida.

Bill Thompson

The citizens want the scumbag Scott and the legislative leaders arrested for passing legislation approving illegal drugs in violation of federal drug laws and for enabling the use of dangerous illegal drugs in our family friendly state.


I'm ed jenkins, I'm Bill Thompson, I'm ed jenkins, I'm Bill Thompson, I'm ed jenkins....... Somebody has multiple personalities and they are all very sick.

Susan Goldstein

None of you would be knocking this initiative if you knew the facts, or if you had a child that suffered 300 seizures a week, and you had run out of prescription medications to try, and the doctors told you there was nothing else they could do,that your child was going to die. That's what happened to Charlotte's mom, Paige Figi.

Fast forward two years later...a strain of cannabis that was produced, tweaked for two years, and processed to extract the non euphoric oils, and was given to your child.

Amazingly, you child begins to speak, no longer needs a wheel chair, and last week went hiking for two hours!! That's what happened to Charlotte and hundreds of other children.

This is NOT about the money!! It is about the treatment and curing of chronic seizures and other symptoms that pharmaceuticals have failed to prevent. The greatest problem is there are 9,000 children on the waiting list for this product and it cannot be initially distributed unless an endless source can be supplied to that patient. You cannot just stop providing it or that patient will severely regress. We need more producers of a quality product. But it must be grown properly and in a sterile, consistent environment. The rules implemented by the Dept. of Health are crucial to ensure a gold seal standard of quality and consistence. This is not about a bunch of hippies growing pot. This is a proven, effective remedy for very sick children.

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