Open the licensure process in Florida for medical marijuana under Amendment 2. There are 10,000 new businesses waiting to start.

It has been said that “an island cannot rule a continent.” Yet right now in Florida, that is predicted to happen with Amendment 2. Journalists report that an island of powerful lobbyists represents the seven licensees for the medical cannabis industry in Florida. Their goal: to bar the doors, rather than open the market to new licensees as allowed by Amendment 2.

Florida taxpayers missed out on an estimated $740 million of revenue from our law’s discriminatory language and lack of licensure in medical marijuana. An open market of licensure would have created a thriving industry and significant revenue through licensing applications and renewal fees.

Consider that most state’s grower licenses are $100,000 to $200,000 and dispensary licenses are $5,000 to $10,000 each. Renewal fees have similar rates and are a wellspring of new funds for state budgets.

This figure is real lost taxpayers dollars, as applications and licensing fees are paid in full before a company makes or sells its first product. To date, the only license fees collected were from seven dispensaries organizations, totaling approximately $1 million. But this was neutralized by the cost of defense for the state of Florida in litigation by challenges to the law. Losses to taxpayers and the state will continue to mount until the status quo is changed and the market is fully open to licensure.

If you’re still not clear how low and out-of-line Florida’s licensure figures are, let’s compare Florida to other legal medical cannabis states:

• Florida has 7 licensees for a population of 20 million

• Washington has 1,050 licensees for a population of 7 million

• Colorado has 3,000 licensees for a population of 5 million

• Oregon has 540 business and 65,000 individual licenses for a 4 million population

Florida lost $740 million of revenue over three years, because Florida closed the door to licensure except for a hand-picked few. That lost revenue could have been a $3,800 bonus for Florida’s 190,000 public school teachers or a $9,300 annual raise for 40,000 sworn sheriff’s deputies and police officers.

Let’s use Amendment 2 as it was written. Florida can license 10,000 new businesses and create up to 200,000 new jobs for our citizens in their own towns – good jobs with the economic freedom to live in a place where you want to live, work in a profession you enjoy, and earn a living-wage to feed your children and support your family.

To do anything but implement Amendment 2 with an open and horizontal market is to literally take food off the table of the citizens of Florida and out of the mouths of the children of our counties.

Open the licensure process in Florida. Ten thousand new businesses are waiting to start.

Mark Moore, M.D., is on the Board of Trustees for Florida Taxwatch. He is the physician founder of MEDCAN, LLC, in Tallahassee.

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