Recreational marijuana now one step closer to reality in Florida, local pot growers not happy
APOPKA, Fla. - At the Chronic Guru in Apopka, Patrick O’Brien and his team use their low-THC hemp plants to make lots of different products. "For instance, these are your sativa pre-rolls, so if you're looking for ease of use, that's a grab-and-go kind of thing. We have indicas, sativas, hybrids," he said.
They also carry the more traditional items, for this business, showing a jar filled with hemp plant buds. "Where you will start getting into the flower side of things, and that is top-shelf. At the end of the day, and you're not paying medical prices, is the thing, you don't have to do that."
But while O’Brien’s business is based on the 'bud,' he says he's not for the proposed recreational marijuana initiative. He says it heavily favors large pot companies like Trulieve, at the expense of smaller, independent shops.
"If they're going to open up rec, you have to make it fair for the mom and pop to get their foot in the door," he said, "because currently we're light years behind anyone else in the United States when it comes to these bills being rolled out in an appropriate manner."
The recreational marijuana initiative has cleared a big hurdle toward making on next November’s ballot, gathering more than the required number of necessary signatures. But O’Brien points out that the initiative is funded by Trulieve, and would only allow the few companies holding a state license to sell medical pot - like Trulieve - to sell it recreationally to people over 21. "They're locking this in for their own pockets, and that's the issue we have," he said.
O’Brien says if the initiative passes as written, the state would also lose out on millions of dollars in new tax money. Trulieve hasn't returned our requests for comment. People in the community say in principle, they wouldn't have a problem with Floridians being able to buy pot the same way they can now buy alcohol. "If people want to smoke it they can," said Apopka resident Anne Larsen, "but I'm not going to."