Also, weed can't legally be transported across state lines because of federal interstate commerce laws. You won't be able to buy weed on the day after the election from a California pot farmer. If the law passes, growers will have to start from scratch here.

The cost of running a medical marijuana operation runs in the six figures.

That said, the feds have already grappled with the conflicting state and federal laws. In a 2009 memo, Deputy U.S. Attorney General David Ogden essentially said the government will not enforce federal law against people who follow state law, provided they follow these seven commandments:

• Thou shall not possess firearms.

• Thou shall not commit violence.

• Thou shall not sell to kids without a prescription.

• Thou shall not launder money from illegal marijuana sales.

• Thou shall not possess or sell any other illegal narcotics.

• Thou shall not grow more marijuana than the state legally allows.

• Thou shall not have ties to other criminal enterprises.

Agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration are always on the lookout for violators. Between 2009 and 2012, the feds raided more than 100 dispensaries in California. Last November, DEA agents led raids against a dozen Denver medical marijuana dispensaries they suspected of laundering money and trafficking weed out of Colorado. Just this month, the DEA shut down four Los Angeles dispensaries.

Basically, if you are going to open a medical marijuana business, don't do any gangster shit. Any medical marijuana operation that opens in late 2015 has the potential to make plenty of money legally selling bud to qualified patients. This being South Florida, there might be a temptation to act like Tony Montana. Don't do it.

Step 4: Pick a business model.

The constitutional amendment requires that the state set up regulations by May 1, 2015, and issue patient cards by August.

Medical marijuana laws differ slightly in each of the 21 states that have legalized pot, but based on regulations in those states, there will likely be two ways to make money. An individual or a corporation can set up a dispensary, or a "medical marijuana treatment center," that will grow weed and stock the ganja, plus sell other pot products like food, hash oils, and ointments. For mom-and-pop marijuana entrepreneurs, the "caregiver" option typically allows a person who passes a background check to supply weed — excuse me, "provide meds" — to five patients. Florida's ­proposed amendment expressly prohibits caregivers from sampling a patient's medicine.

The Florida financial impact study shows that at least 250,351 caregivers and 1,789 treatment centers would be needed to service an estimated 417,252 patients.

In addition to allowing for dispensaries and caregivers, 15 states allow patients to grow their own weed, though some impose certain restrictions — if the patient suffers financial hardship, for instance, or lives at least 25 miles from a dispensary.

The Florida Department of Health will likely determine who can grow cannabis plants for patients and how many they can grow. In addition to the health department regulations, the state Legislature as well as individual cities and counties could pile on additional laws.

So how much revenue stands to be made? Once it's determined how many patients will qualify and how much med weed they'll need, you can do the math.

Dispensaries around the country charge $20 to $60 for an eighth of an ounce, the equivalent of about three to four joints, says Kris Hermes, a spokesman for Americans for Safe Access, a national organization promoting medical marijuana. Prices are about on par with street prices in Florida — currently about $50 for an eighth. "In California," Hermes says, "the most potent marijuana can retail at $400 an ounce," he says. "That amount may last one patient two to three months. But another patient could use it up in two weeks."

But patients will have to pay for weed out of their own pockets. Health insurers do not cover medical marijuana. "I don't know of any insurers that have specifically explained why they refuse to reimburse patients," Hermes says. "It could be that marijuana is still illegal under federal law."

Step 5: Partner with someone who is already in the medical marijuana business in another state.

Avoid the headache of having to figure out every potential problem you will face by partnering with someone who's already been through this rigmarole in another state. The benefits are obvious.

Harold Brooks Jr., a Vero Beach dentist, incorporated Marijuana Florida and Marijuana Miami on January 31. "I see a number of people who come in wheelchairs and who have debilitating diseases," he says. "They can't wait for medical marijuana to be legal. They really believe it will help them quit Vicodin and other drug dependencies they have."

When he gets into the business, he's got an experienced hand to count on. His son, Steve Brooks, owns two dispensaries and four grow facilities in Colorado. "He's planning to open two more dispensaries and just opened a store for recreational users," Harold says. "He loves Miami and would love to open down there if medical marijuana becomes available."

Via telephone, Steve Brooks says he was building high-end single-family homes until a building boom went bust about four years ago. He partnered with two other builders to open their first dispensary in Denver in late 2010. "I got into this business not knowing anything about it," Steve says. "I had never grown a cannabis plant in my life, and I had never run a retail business. I hired a company to manage and consult on the grow end, and I hired the right people on the retail side."

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Denver Colorado -- The largest federal raids ever of Colorado's medical-marijuana industry culminated Monday in the indictment of four people on accusations they funneled and laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars from Colombia to buy a Denver warehouse.

The allegations in the case, detailed for the first time Monday, paint a picture of international money transfers, a marijuana dispensary owner on the lam, high-dollar cultivation facilities, and a car trunk full of cash. If convicted, the defendants could be sentenced to decades in prison.

"This is a money-laundering case," Jeffrey Dorschner, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Colorado, said after a court hearing Monday.

Named in the indictment are brothers Luis and Gerardo Uribe, 28 and 33, respectively; attorney David Furtado, 48; and Colombian citizen Hector Diaz, 49. Both Uribes and Furtado were among the owners of the more than a dozen medical-marijuana businesses that Drug Enforcement Administration and Internal Revenue

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

### Colorado Dispensary Operators Indicted by Feds ###

On Nov. 21, federal agents executed search warrants on 14 businesses — including dispensaries and grow facilities — and two homes, carting away plants and seizing records. A search warrant identified 10 men as "target subjects" connected to the operation.

Denver attorney Sean McAllister said Friday his client, Gerardo Uribe, was indicted. 

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