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University Park's Todd Kleperis shows two edible cannabis products during his presentation at an event held in Lakewood Ranch.
East County Wednesday, Jun. 7, 2017 1 year ago

Will new industry be a hit?

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Investors sought for the fast-growing cannabis industry.
by: Berkley Mason Staff Writer

The medicinal marijuana industry could be budding in East County.

On June 22, the Sarasota Polo Club hosted MJ Cannaday, an event that served as a networking and investment opportunity for the legalized cannabis industry.

The agenda included an industry overview, panel discussions with experienced investors and a presentation by four companies searching for investors.

“Sooner or later the weed industry is going to be taking credit cards, and we want to be involved in that as soon as possible,” said Gary Brudner, vice president at Merchant Services Consulting Group in Lakewood Ranch. “It is going to happen. It is just a matter of time.”

While Merchant Services Consulting Group deals with payment solutions, all areas of the industry were covered.

More than 20 local business representatives and potential investors attended the event.

According to Marijuana Business Daily, 17 businesses operate medicinal dispensaries in Florida.

As of June 9, in a special session of the Florida Legislature, both the Senate and the House passed a bill that allows for 10 new licensed growers in the state, each with a cap of 25 dispensaries, making for 17 total grow sites throughout the state.

“My guess is it is going to take another year for (the expansion) to happen,” said Todd Kleperis, owner of HARDCAR Security, which was a sponsor of the event. 

Kleperis, who lives in University Place, organized the MJ Cannaday event. His armored security company transports money and cannabis products.

“This industry is growing and it is changing people’s lives,” the 46-year-old Kleperis said. “I love this business because it is so unique, and I have never seen anything grow as fast. The target market for some of these products is older people who grew up around it in the 1960s.”

Central Park’s Jay Scheck said it is an important industry.

Due to a motorcycle accident six years ago in New Jersey, Scheck fractured his neck and has some paralysis, including nerve damage in his right arm. Following the accident, Scheck remained on painkillers for four years.

“They said I’d be on (pain medication) forever, but I didn’t want to be,” said Scheck, who was worried about the longterm side effects of pain medication.

Scheck received his medicinal marijuana card three months ago from a local physician. He smokes THC oil out of his small, black vaporizing pen whenever he feels bad.

“Weed is not as much of a pain relief as the opioids are, you have to accept that,” Scheck said. “But it is also not going to kill you, and that’s a huge thing.”

He said medical marijuana is an important and viable industry.

“When you smoke medically, you’re not smoking to get high, you’re smoking to get some pain relief,” Scheck said. “That pain relief might just come with a nice buzz, but still, recreationally it is different.”

While Florida is passing new legislation when it comes to the medical marijuana industry, counties are still grappling with how to deal with it.

According to Florida Statutes section 381.986(8)(b), the number, location and permitting requirements that do not conflict with state law or Department of Health are established by the county.

On June 6, Manatee County extended a temporary moratorium on the establishment and operation of medical marijuana dispensaries and treatment centers within the county for a 90-day period (June 18 through Sept. 16). It was done to "research, study and analyze the potential impact of medical marijuana dispensaries and treatment centers upon nearby properties."

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