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Florida: Daytona Beach Decriminalizes Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The city of Daytona Beach voted on Wednesday night to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The ordinance will allow police officers to issue tickets to offenders found with less than 20 grams of marijuana, instead of arresting them and taking them to jail.

The ordinance was approved unanimously by the city council and it goes into effect immediately.

The exact cost of tickets has not been announced.

The city of Orlando passed a similar ordinance in April to make possession of 20 grams of pot or less a violation of city code.

Penalties for simple possession in Orlando range from $50 to a mandated court hearing, depending on how many times a person has been ticketed.

Florida: Orlando Leaders Change Marijuana Decriminalization Ordinance

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Orlando leaders made changes Monday to their recent marijuana decriminalization ordinance, making possession of 20 grams of pot or less a city code violation instead of a misdemeanor.

The ordinance was originally written so that a first violation would mean a $50 fine. The fine was changed to $100 and $200 for first and second offenders, but it would also give them the option to waive the fines if they take a substance abuse education program instead.

Currently, possession of 20 grams of pot is a criminal misdemeanor carrying a punishment of up to a year in jail and a fine up to $1,000.

“It would help a lot of lower and middle-income families out here have a second chance. We keep seeing the same things over and over again, and it’s not working, so we need to make a change with the policy,” said Korey Wheeler of Organize Now.

Supporters for the change said the punishment should fit the crime.

"This will give our officers an option so that that person's life won't be ruined by a criminal record," said Chief John Mina of the Orlando Police Department.

The effective date for the ordinance has been set for October 1.

U.S.: The Marijuana Show Returns For Season 3; $20 Million Available To Ganjapreneurs

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Season Three breaks records with $20 million available to ganjapreneurs in capital investment

The cannabis industry is anticipated to grow to $17.5 billion by the year 2020, and the first-ever reality show about investing in cannabis is looking for the next crop of ganjapreneurs to join winners who have already offered over $18 million in investments, and brought a cannabis car, a major Hollywood “stoner comedy”, a cannabis advertising agency, and a line of CBD-infused dog bones to the market.

Emerging and established ganjapreneurs with new business ideas or budding companies are invited to audition for season three of the critically acclaimed TV series The Marijuana Show, dubbed the “Shark Tank for Ganjapreneurs,” for an opportunity to receive guidance and capital to take them to the next level. The newest season is breaking records, offering $20 million in investment capital, beating out network juggernaut “Shark Tank” and offering more investment money to a contestant than “Shark Tank” ever has.

This season celebrity American entrepreneur, author and CEO of Rush Communications Russell Simmons joins the roster as an advocate for the show. “A lot of people who are innovative and can figure out ways to build out brands, looks like that’s a market they should get in,” Simmons said.

Florida: Orlando Becomes Latest City To Decriminalize Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

On Monday the Orlando City Council voted to approve an ordinance that would effectively decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The measure narrowly passed, with a vote of 4-3, making possession of 20 grams or less a violation of a city code with a $50 fine for first offenders.

Supporters, including dozens of residents, outnumbered opponents at the meeting on Monday.

One of the three council members voting no, Commissioner Samuel Ings said the measure would hurt Orlando's image as a family friendly tourist destination and represents a "slippery slope."

"We don't have to follow the trend that other cities have started just because it has become popular," said Ortiz, who argued not enough data is yet available to determine the impact of similar policies.

The four voting in favor were commissioners Regina Hill, Patty Sheehan, Robert Stuart and Mayor Buddy Dyer.

Orlando police chief John Mina and Mayor Dyer urged approval of the ordinance, similar to pot policies recently adopted in other municipalities, including Tampa and Volusia County.

Marijuana possession will remain a state crime. Mina said officers may still make arrests for even small amounts of marijuana, depending on circumstances including the offender's record.

Florida: Orlando Could Be Next City To Decriminalize Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Orlando city commissioners will vote on April 18 on a measure that would decriminalize the possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana.

Instead of making an arrest, police officers could issue fines beginning at $50, according to city of Orlando documents. Fines would increase for repeat offenders, and a possible court hearing would be mandated.

Marijuana would still be considered illegal, but the measure would lessen the criminal image that typically comes with marijuana.

This change in perception among Orlando leaders could help the passage of Amendment 2, the initiative on the November ballot that would legalize a wider use of medical marijuana in Florida.

Orlando attorney John Morgan, who has publicly and financially backed the Amendment 2 effort in Florida, voiced his approval of Orlando leaders considering the decriminalization of possessing marijuana, tweeting that Orlando could be the next city to decriminalize marijuana.

Florida: Canna Conference and Networking - Get Ready For Sunshine State To Go Green

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Florida entrepreneurs hoping to learn more about opportunities in the medical marijuana industry have the opportunity to do exactly that at a conference in Orlando on November 1.

The event, hosted by DispensaryPermits.com, will bring together leading medical cannabis entrepreneurs and industry experts to provide information and guidance to dispensary and cultivation application hopefuls.

Attendees will get a chance to learn more about operating professional dispensary and cultivation facilities, how to connect with the medical marijuana patient community, navigating industry legalities, selecting suitable real estate, and generating community support.

"When we decided to apply for a permit, we didn't know where to begin," said one client of DispensaryPermits.com. "With all of the misinformation that was circulating among media and other interested entrepreneurs, our team realized we needed professionals to help guide us through the application process."

"DispensaryPermits.com has an outstanding track record of success in assisting clients apply for and obtain dispensary licenses in multiple states," said DispensaryPermits.com Executive Director Sara Gullickson. "We look forward to providing valuable information about the complex medical marijuana industry at this upcoming conference in Orlando."

U.S.: 'I Choose Cannabis and Business' Workshops Slated For Five Cities

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"I Choose Cannabis and Business" workshops have been slated for five cities across the United States in September and October.

Todd Mitchem Consulting, in conjunction with Cannabrand, a full-service recreational cannabis marketing agency, will present the workshops. According to Cannabrand, Mitchem has consulted for Colorado-based businesses including O.penVAPE, as well as mainstream corporations such as Starbucks, Purina, Marriott, H&R Block, Pizza Hut, Google and Nestle.

Targeting everyone curious about the cannabis industry, from entrepreneurs to investors, Mitchem and the Cannabrand team will share information on trends, business processes and legal operations.

With expertise in industry building and accelerating brand growth, Mitchem will lead the presentation and cover topics such as creating a sustainable company structure, constructing scalable processes, requirements for building a national brand in cannabis as well as understanding the unique intricacies of public relations, government relations and personnel management.

"These hands on workshops will appeal to any person curious about the future of this industry, investors wondering what to look for in a possible investment opportunity, or anyone looking to break into the movement of mainstream cannabis business," Mitchem said. "I welcome anyone looking to break into the mainstream cannabis movement which is a big business with an anticipated $2.5 billion market value by the end of 2014."

Florida: Republicans Jump Into Fight Against Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A recent poll in Florida has shown support for medical marijuana at almost 90 percent. The medicinal cannabis question on the ballot could even affect the gubernatorial race. But in a move of questionable political wisdom, deep-pocketed Republicans have raised more than $7.7 million to fight Amendment 2, a proposal to allow doctors to authorize seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana.

The latest financial reports from the two biggest groups fighting medicinal cannabis in the Sunshine State show that the Drug Free Florida campaign alone has raised $2.7 million, including a single $2.5 million contribution from Las Vegas casino magnate and GOP wheeler dealer Sheldon Adelson, reports Bill Cotterell of Reuters.

Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., is one of the richest men in the world, and not coincidentally, one of the biggest donors to the Republican Party, reports Matt Ferner at The Huffington Post. He spent $150 million supporting GOP candidates in the 2012 elections -- almost all of whom lost.

Joining the Republicans in their anti-pot fight this week was the supposedly "non-partisan" Florida Sheriffs Association, which began sponsoring an inane, almost fact-free "educational campaign" against the medical marijuana amendment.

Florida: Medical Marijuana Ballot Petition Nears Signature Goal

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A petition drive in Florida for the medical use of marijuana is nearing its signature goal, according to organizers, who said they expect to submit enough signatures this week to get the issue on ballots in time for November's election.

Campaign organizers have to get 683,149 valid voter signatures before February 1 in order to qualify. Almost one in three signatures are typically rejected, but polls show the petition has a good chance of success, reports Bill Cotterell of Reuters.

Backers are shooting for about 1 million signatures, to account for any ruled invalid; organizers say they will hit the million-signature mark by next week, reports Reid Wilson at The Washington Post.

"By this time next week, we should have more than enough to give us some comfort that we should be on the ballot," said Ben Pollara, who runs the People United For Medical Marijuana campaign that's backing the initiative.

So far, PUFMM has submitted 265,000 valid signatures, according to the Florida Department of Elections. The group says it still has hundreds of thousands of signatures being processed by county elections officials.

Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan has contributed $3 million to the campaign.

Florida: Attorney General Asks State Supreme Court To Throw Out Medical Marijuana Initiative

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is challenging a proposal to put a ballot measure which would legalize medical marijuana before state voters in the November 2014 general election. Bondi on Thursday sent a petition to the Florida Supreme Court, along with the campaign's ballot language and petitions.

Atty. Gen. Bondi claims that People United For Medical Marijuana (PUFMM), led by Orlando attorney John Morgan, filed misleading ballot language in describing how widely medical marijuana would be allowed under the measure, reports Scott Powers at the Orlando Sentinel.

Bondi also complained that the ballot language failed to note that even if Florida voters approve the measure, marijuana will still be illegal under federal law.

"Its true scope and effect remain hidden," Bondi claimed in her petition to the Supreme Court.

She charged the wording was too broad and would allow doctors to authorize medical marijuana for almost any condition, and additionally argued that medical marijuana could not be called "legal" as long as it's illegal under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act in federal law.

Bondi's arguments would come as quite a surprise to the patients of California, who have had safe access to medical marijuana for 17 years under state law, and to patients in 19 other states which also passed medical marijuana laws without asking for federal permission.

Florida: Medical Marijuana Drive Motivated By Passion, Not Politics

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The drive to legalize medical marijuana in Florida is driven by passion, not by a desire to boost turnout for the Democratic candidate in next year's gubernatorial race, according to Orlando attorney John Morgan, who is leading the effort. Morgan's personal-injury law firm employs former Gov. Charlie Crist, a former Republican who is widely expected to run for governor in 2014 as a Democrat.

Morgan, who has committed to spending up to $3 million to get a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana on the November 2014 ballot, told the Capital Tiger Bay Club that he learned about the medicinal benefits of cannabis 20 years ago when his father was dying of esophogeal cancer, reports Margie Menzel of the News Service of Florida.

"I know it works because I have seen it," Morgan said. "Are we going to do what's right, or are we going to get hung up on the word 'drug'?"

Morgan said his father was "the most anti-drug guy in the world," but marijuana helped him endure chronic nausea. "He got to sit at the table and have a meal and a conversation," Morgan said.

"There is no drug in America that cures the nausea from chemotherapy," Morgan said. "They say there is, but there's not."

It's not going to be easy. Passage of the constitutional amendment, should it qualify for the ballot, would require support from not just a majority of the voters, but of 60 percent -- a steep political hill to climb.

Florida: Medical Marijuana Initiative Takes First Step Towards 2014 Ballot

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, led by Orlando lawyer and political power broker/fundraiser John Morgan, is ready for the state Supreme Court to review. This is the first step towards getting the question in front of voters on the November 2014 ballot.

Final language for the proposed ballot initiative has been approved by Morgan, he said on Friday, reports Scott Powers at the Orlando Sentinel. Morgan said he is ready to send the language to the Florida Supreme Court for approval so that People United For Medical Marijuana (PUFMM) can begin a petition drive.

The effort still has many hurdles to clear before getting on the ballot. Once the Florida Supreme Court approves the language of the initiative, supporters must get 788,000 signatures from registered Florida voters -- then come more reviews.

But sending the language to the Florida Supreme Court, which Morgan said would happen late Friday or on Monday, is a sign that the effort is getting serious, a first for Florida.

The language would allow doctors to authorize marijuana to treat severe symptoms or drug side effects associated with cancer, multiple sclerosis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. It would also allow physicians to authorize cannabis in other unspecified cases involving life-threatening illnesses.

Florida: Robert Platshorn's Pot Infomercial Pulled By Orlando Station

Florida: Robert Platshorn's Pot Infomercial Pulled By Orlando StationBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Robert Platshorn wants to spread the good news about medicinal cannabis. Since late last year, the former pot smuggler -- who served almost 30 years in federal prison after the "Black Tuna Gang" was busted by authorities -- has been buying TV time on local stations for his infomercial aimed and senior citizens, Should Grandma Smoke Pot?

The 30-minute show aims to educate the elderly on the pros of medical legalization, and is an extension of Platshorn's popular "Silver Tour," reports Kyle Swenson at Broward Palm Beach New Times.

Having already successful bought airtime and aired the show on stations in the Tampa area and in South Florida, Platshorn was ready to crack the Orlando market on WKCF, a CW affiliate owned by Hearst Media. But the deal fell apart at the last minute when the station got cold feet about the infomercial's message.

"When we bought the time to start running in March, they were very happy to sell it to us," Platshorn said. Should Grandma Smoke Pot? was scheduled for six half-hour slots on WKCF, according to Platshorn, at a total price of about $2,200; the deal was signed on February 26.

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