Ybor hosts medical marijuana industry conference

- Dozens of people hoping to get in on the ground floor of Florida's developing medical marijuana industry started Friday, by attending the first day of a conference in Ybor City.

The three-day ComfyTree Canna Conference, which is being held at the Cuban Club, is featuring a team of entrepreneurs, doctors and business professionals who are teaching people how to get involved in the industry.

"We've had a great crowd so far," said Angela Ardolino, the CEO of CannaCure, who helped organize the event. "They're learning everything from operating a dispensary to what can you take of your current skills and apply them to this brand new industry."

Last week, voters passed Amendment 2, legalizing the buying and selling of prescription marijuana. Legislators reportedly have six months to iron out regulations.

In the meantime several cities and counties, including Hillsborough, Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City, are passing moratoriums preventing dispensaries from opening up for six months.

"I think it's necessary because this is a brand new industry, it hasn't been looked at and when you compare it to a bar or club, there are very specific zoning rules saying how far they are from a school, from a church, from a park," said Ellen Snelling, with the Hillsborough Co Anti-Drug Alliance, who is helping guide communities who want to pass similar ordinances. "I'm really hoping that the Department of Health and our legislators can carefully craft rules and regulations to keep [recreational use] from happening because we don't want it to be a backdoor to recreational."

Ardolino is skeptical about why the ordinances is being passed.

"I assume that it's for political reasons. I'm hoping that it's because they want to do it right and slow it down and make sure that there's not one on every corner," she said.

The conference will continue Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

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