Local Plant Nursery Can Be The Next Legal Pot Grower
GAINESVILLE - Some of the first legal marijuana in the state may be grown in North Central Florida. Governor Rick Scott is expected to sign a bill that would legalize a limited form of medical marijuana. There would be five dispensaries in the state authorized to grow the plant that has no hallucinagenic THC in it. A potential one is in Alachua County however some experts see potholes in the bill.
In November Florida voters will get to decide if the broader use of medical marijuana is legal. Grandiflora Nursery in Gainesville is one of nearly 40 growers that meet the requirements for a cannabis license.
"I love plants for one thing," Alan Shapiro said. Shapiro has been in the plant growing business for almost forty years. "I feel blessed to be able to grow millions of plants a year that are getting planted out into the environment and improving our planet," he added.
His business Grandiflora Nursery is 106 acres worth of what he considers his Garden of Eden. "I feel a little bit like Adam, growing my garden here. Helping keep the planet green and healthy and provide food."
Every year they grow millions of plants such as, Salvia Hotlips and Black-Eyed Susans and in 2015 there may be a new crop. "Most of the medicines come from plants think about aspirin," Shapiro said. And while he had no interest at first, Shapiro's nursery made it on the state list of potential legal pot growers in Florida. They meet requirements like being in business for over 30 years and growing 400 thousand plants a year.
Shapiro said, "We're interested in growing marijuana because it can help children with seizures and it might be able to help people with other ailments as well. People that are having trouble eating or keeping food down, cancer patients that are having problems with nausea."
However some experts believe there is little research data that will support both the drug’s safety and effectiveness. Paul Doering with the College of Pharmacy at the University of Florida said, "The one that is approved for medical treatment in Florida has to have very little of the THC, that's the component people use to get high but a very high quantity of a second ingredient that is called Cannabidiol. I was interested to see that the state is moving full steam ahead already designating potential places where the drug can be grown."
Doering worries that things are moving so fast they won't be done the right way. "My overall hope is that if this is the direction we go that it's a sensible thing that keeps the patient's best interest foremost," Doering added.
If you are wondering who else would be involved with medical marijuana here in North Central Florida. We know one thing for sure, the University of Florida wouldn't as this would cut research funding.
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