Jeremy Bufford isnt a pot smoker, but that hasnt stopped him from wanting to capitalize on the possibility of medical marijuana being legalized in Florida.
As an information technology consultant and a business architect, Buffords used his entrepreneurial spirit to launch the states first ever class on medical marijuana, which features instruction from various experts on the drug and the marijuana growing industry.
Medical marijuana has yet to be legalized in the Sunshine State, but thats not stopping Bufford from getting people wised up on the drug.
According to the Medical Marijuana Tampa course syllabus, the exploratory course is designed for patients, caregivers, doctors, growers and prospective employees of Medical Marijuana Tampa.
Whoever has a stake in medical marijuana in 2015 and beyond, were going to educate them about cannabis," said Bufford.
The month-long class, which is held in Tampa, launched on Tuesday, kicking off what Bufford hopes will be the beginning of a bigger operation -- eventually, Medical Marijuana Tampa aims to open five other classrooms across the Tampa Bay area as well as 15 medical marijuana treatment centers, where patients will be able to go and buy their medication.
Anyone can register for the class for a fee of $499, but space is limited -- once a class is full, its sold out, and no new students will be accepted for the course. Twenty-five students are currently enrolled in the first class, but beginning in March only 10 students will be allowed in each of the five planned classes.
Interest in the course has been high -- according to Bufford, some have even driven up from Miami to enroll in Medical Marijuana Tampa.
Bufford has already hired five people and said he expects to hire 350 more with Medical Marijuana Tampas expansion, buthes on the hunt for private investors to help bring in $10 million to help with Medical Marijuana Tampas operating costs and future growth.
A similar attempt at medical marijuana school was made by Oasksterdam University in San Francisco, but the university was shut down promptly after a federal raid on the property uncovered large amounts of medical marijuana at the school.
Cultivating large amounts of medical marijuana is still a federal offense punishable by a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence.
When asked if he was jumping the gun by already planning distribution centers, Bufford told Sunshine State News that where theres risk, theres reward and he doesnt seem too worried the amendment will pass.
I have a level of confidence that these laws will pass and we will be able to amend the Constitution, he said.
Medical marijuana has enjoyed broad support with Florida voters in recent polls. A Quinnipiac University poll released in November found 82 percent of voters in the Sunshine State said they support allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical reasons if it is prescribed by a doctor. A poll released this week by Gravis found 57 percent of those surveyed plan to back the proposed amendment.
If and when the amendment passes, Bufford said hes already taken the steps to make sure hes ready -- and then hell be able to reap the benefits of investing in medical marijuana early on.
I believe that the reward is great enough, he said. When day one hits and were able to open up 15 stores simultaneously, I think it will be very obvious what the benefit of getting out in front of this was.
Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at Allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen.