Armed with an MBA from Nova Southeastern University, horticulturist Carlos Hermida headed west to California, where he graduated as valedictorian from a for-profit college that trains individuals for the cannabis industry.
Hermida, a Miami native who now resides in Tampa, is one of the more than 200 interested parties – from doctors to security expects to current or potential patients – who attended Canna-Ed Day in Boca Raton Friday.
The event, the third in the state hosted by the Florida Cannabis Coalition, was an educational and social event geared toward those who hope to benefit from or make a living in Florida’s medical marijuana industry – an industry that is expected to flourish should the voters says yes to Amendment Two in November.
The initiative, a much broader medical pot referendum than the recently signed-into-law Charlotte’s Web bill, would allow for all aspects of medical marijuana cultivation, distribution and use of cannabis to treat a wide range of medical conditions when recommended by a physician.
The prospect of its passage is what many of those in attendance at Canna-Ed Day said they are banking on as they maneuver breaking into the new industry.
Many of the potential producers or those looking to assist them -- like Hermida, who has a consulting firm planned -- see the five Charlotte’s Web nursery licenses required by the Legislature to grow the strain as either too restrictive or unimportant for their plans with the expected passage of Amendment Two in November.
Hermida, who worked as a professor at Medical Marijuana Tampa, one of the state’s first cannabis colleges, said he attends such events in order to network within the business which he wants to help flourish in his home state.
While he knows of colleagues in the industry who are working to join the already established nurseries that meet the legislative requirements, he says he is not one of them.
“I’m putting all my eggs on the Amendment Two basket," he says. "I know that there are plenty of people out there who are trying to partner with many of these nurseries that qualify to be on there. However, it’s hard for me to get into that because there really seems to be a conservative agenda towards it.”
Canna-Ed Day organizer Tom Quigley, CEO of the Florida Cannabis Coalition, said the event was designed to teach people more about the business and medicinal prospects of utilizing whole plant marijuana, beyond the limited use designated by Charlotte’s Web. He urged attendees to advocate for the passage of Amendment Two in November.
“We need people to get out and vote first of all, and then once they get out and vote we can start making change for whole plant cannabis," Quigley says. "Once we get to there we have more testing, we have the advancement of the medicine, and then we can really get down to the science of how it’s used for different aspects.”
The Florida Cannabis Coalition is planning on hosting a similar event in Miami in September.