ORLANDO, Fla. - A viewing area overlooking a Willy Wonka-style production line of chocolates and candies, an LED interactive floor, aerial orb shows, interactive laser graffiti -- this isn’t a high-tech art exhibit but rather some of the attractions at Las Vegas marijuana superstore Planet 13.
The company just announced they are going to be building three similar marijuana superstores in Florida (Orlando, Miami, and Tampa). Planet 13’s Las Vegas location has been open for just over two years. It’s become quite the tourist attraction "126-thousand people came through the door last month," said Larry Scheffler, Planet 13’s co-CEO.
Planet 13 is spending $55 million cash to buy a license to operate Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers in Florida.
"With 130 million visitors coming to Florida, great economic climate involving taxes, We think it’s probably one of the best markets in the United States," Scheffler said.
Right now only medical marijuana is legal here in Florida. State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando is working to change that.
"I fully plan on re-introducing bi-partisan legislation to legalize cannabis in Florida. Certainly, that will include a provision to allow for small and minority-owned businesses to be part of that as well," Guillermo Smith said.
He recognizes the power of marijuana tourism and would like to give small businesses an opportunity to get a chance to get involved in the industry.
"It would create thousands of jobs and literally bring hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue and even cannabis tourism. Florida would be the first state in the South to legalize cannabis for adult use, and that means tourists will come to Florida," Guillermo Smith said.
Cannabis college Learn Sativa University founder Patrick O’Brien said it makes sense for a company like Planet 13 to plant roots in Florida now to prepare for if and when marijuana is legalized for recreational adult use.
"Seventy-plus percent voted yes for cannabis. It's only a matter of time before tourism, they realize how much money's involved in tourism. I mean the market is as it sits for Florida alone is a $1.9 billion marketplace," O’Brien said.
O’Brien said in a city where people come to be entertained, Orlando makes sense for a company whose stores look like they are part of an amusement center.
"There’s a reason to go there. Something going on," Scheffler said.
Sheffler said Planet 13 will open neighborhood dispensaries within the next year. He added that it will take about two years to get their first superstore open.
They have their eyes on a property in Miami. Sheffler said he and some of his team will be visiting Orlando and Tampa within the next two weeks to start scouting out properties for those superstores. Their goal is to get them in high traffic touristy part of town.
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