Cannabis conference hosted in Tampa Saturday

Lessons on starting a cannabis business and various types of marijuana were the main focus at a cannabis conference held in Tampa on Saturday.

The Cannabis Career Institute was held at the Hampton Inn and Suites on North Hidden River Parkway from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. It featured training from expert in bud-tending, dispensary management, and cannabis entrepreneurs."

Although the drug is not legal in Florida, organizers said they strongly feel legalization is in the future for the state.

"At this point, we see the momentum, we know the information and the knowledge is there, and we feel it will come to pass someday," said Dan Downing. "This is an effort to educate the people that want knowledge about it."

Downing, a former construction worker, said he got into working with marijuana after a knee and back injury prevented him from doing very physical work. He became a medical marijuana delivery driver while living in California and connected with many of the customers.

 "I was shocked when people shook their pill bottles at me and said, 'I'm so glad you're here so I don't have to take this!'" said Downing.

The same disdain for traditional medicine was expressed at Cannathon, a 5K run held at Gasden Park in Tampa on Saturday. Participants wanted to bring awareness to the benefits of medical marijuana for the treatment of PTSD.

 "We need to look at drugs, and we need to subdivide drugs," said Downing. "We don't just walk around and say we have cars. We don't say we have trucks. We have specific models of trucks and we have specific models of cars. It is time to differentiate these substances by their characteristics."

A medical marijuana facility is in the works in Lake Wales. GrowHealthy is building a facility to produce 'Charlotte's Web," a derivative of marijuana that has been approved for use by people with epilepsy, particularly children.

"It is not the magic pill. It has its good points and its bad points, but from my personal experience and the documentation that I found, the positive aspects far outweigh the negative aspects," said Downing.

Another one-day cannabis conference is scheduled for July 21 in Orlando. A location has not yet been announced.