Florida’s Biggest Law Firms Tap New Gold Mine: State’s Proposed Medical-weed Industry | Tampa Bay Times

And if medical marijuana happens to be part of that medical regimen, they want to make sure they’re doing it right.” The state’s biggest firms bolstered their practices this spring after Florida lawmakers passed a “Charlotte’s Web” bill legalizing a non-high-producing cannabis strain used to treat cancer and epilepsy. An even bigger fight comes in November, when voters could pass Amendment 2 and legalize weed for a much broader slate of medical uses. Its prospects seem increasingly upbeat: A Quinnipiac University poll this week found 88 percent of Florida voters support adult medical-cannabis use. If the vote passes, Florida could follow California in becoming America’s second-biggest medical-weed state, with around 400,000 patients spending an average of $3,000 a year, estimates from state regulators and a national cannabis-industry trade group show. State regulators have several months to decide on the law’s little details, leaving a huge window for “cannabusiness” interests pushing to find an unserved niche. The state Department of Health’s Office of Compassionate Use, which is drafting the rules, has a hearing today on a range of potential enterprises, from medical-cannabis testing to home delivery. Lawyers wise to food and alcohol regulation are shoo-ins for the firms’ legal-weed practices: Many of the rules facing Big Pot, attorneys argue, could look a lot like those governing Big Tobacco, Big Food and Big Booze. Joining them are lawyers with a vast range of expertise: Healthcare experts to address hospital and physician groups on how to protect themselves while administering, storing and suggesting the use of a drug still illegal under federal law; Banking and financial gurus to advise on securing investment, handling money and saving on taxes in what has long been an all-cash business; Land use attorneys who can help resolve zoning and landlord disputes over where growers and distributors can operate from seed to sale; Even intellectual-property specialists with knowledge on how to protect and preserve cannabis companies’ strains, brands and reputations, in much the same way consultants have long advised Budweiser or Marlboro. For precedent, attorneys here are analyzing the legal laboratories of the 23 states, plus Washington D.C., that have legalized medical cannabis, and the two states, Washington and Colorado, that have okayed weed for personal use. They also are following in the footsteps of nationwide firms versed in guiding the emerging trade.
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