By: Matt Galka
September 30, 2015
TALLAHASSEE -- Expanding medical marijuana use in Florida is expected to be up to voters again in November of 2016, but state economists are talking the potential monetary impact before it gets to that point.
Representatives from the Governor’s office and state legislature gathered Wednesday to hear Florida economist’s projections for revenue from a potential expansion of medical marijuana. They’re using data from 20 other states that have already legalized pot for medical use.
“Estimating how doctors will be involved and how they’ll treat this and what people will do and the behavioral side of it is much harder, and that’s really what we’re looking to other states for,” said Chief Economist Amy Baker.
Potential revenue could shift either way based on what types of diseases are covered by medical marijuana.
Supporters say hundreds of millions of dollars could be at stake.
Drug Free America reminded the group that when pot is legalized as medicine, it’s not all profit.
“In the state of Colorado, the marijuana enforcement division spends about 9.5 million dollars a year to include 35 FTE’s on managing their program,” said Alan Suskey.
But Jeff Sharkey with the medical marijuana business association says expanding medical marijuana could more than pay for itself.
“It would potentially pay for any type of ancillary programs people would request. Drug education for kids, education program in terms of the medical benefits of this that I think would be necessarily required,” he said.
Florida passed a low-THC medical marijuana law last year. Economists put the revenue generated from the very specific form at around $6 million dollars for the state.
Wednesday’s meeting was the first of three. Economists expect to have an estimated number on expanded medical marijuana revenue during their final meeting.