Things that are basic daily tasks for normal retail businesses become far more complicated in the pot world. Like simply making deposits. Steve says he was lucky to find a local bank, which he would not name, willing to let him open an account. "The bank we're with doesn't do it out in the open," Steve says. "If they did, they would be flooded with applications from medical marijuana companies."

The Los Angeles City Attorney's Office is now moving to shut down 970 dispensaries.

His dispensaries don't accept personal checks, and though he's working with his bank to accept credit card payments, he deals primarily in cash for now. Steve declined to say how much he brings in per day but revealed that he hired an armored truck service to pick up money daily. "However, the federal government put pressure on the armored truck industry to stop servicing us," Steve says. "They have made it more dangerous for the public and the business owner. Now we use a security company to courier money, but we would prefer the armored truck."

Step 6: Retain a lawyer who knows the medical marijuana industry.

Illustration by Colin Hayes
Illustration by Colin Hayes

In South Florida, attorneys are coming out of the weed fields to offer their expertise. Usually, you can run into barristers like Jeff Feiler, a Kendall-based criminal defense lawyer, at the cannabis seminars. Feiler, a snow-haired litigator with a shiny gold Rolex on his wrist, says he is launching a practice devoted to the medical marijuana sector.

In 2009, Feiler's daughter Allison Feiler and his ex-wife, Miami-Dade County Court Judge Loree Schwartz Feiler, opened a dispensary in Denver called Green Tree Medicinals. "As their attorney, I helped them navigate the laws in Colorado," Jeff Feiler says. "I made sure they knew what had to be done to meet the rules and regulations." Today Green Tree is about to open a fourth Colorado store.

Attorneys with strong ties to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws are also gearing up for the coming crop of cannabis captains seeking consiglieres. Norm Kent, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer who sits on NORML's board, and his law partner Russell Cormican recently incorporated Florida Cannabis Consultants LLC. Paul Petruzzi, a Miami lawyer who's been a NORML member for ten-plus years, launched a Facebook page to promote his new side gig, Florida Marijuana Licensing LLC.

In April, Julian Stroleny and Christopher Pagan, a pair of 29-year-old litigators, quit their jobs at the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office to get in on the pot boom. Pagan, who grew up in Fort Lauderdale, prosecuted serious felony cases such as shootings, rapes, and drug trafficking. Asked how many grow-house cases he prosecuted, Pagan replied, "Too many, unfortunately."

Stroleny, a Coconut Grove native, handled misdemeanor drug cases and DUIs. "A high percentage were cannabis cases," he affirms. "In Florida, you can't claim medical use as a defense. The constitutional amendment [will change] that."

Stroleny and Pagan quit to get into medical marijuana consulting for the same reason everyone else is: cash money. Stroleny says his father recently passed away and he now has to help his mom and brothers. Pagan says he's having a baby.

"The State Attorney's Office doesn't pay very well," Stroleny adds. "We get paid less than a school teacher. We found ourselves in a position where we had to provide for our families."

Step 7: Start lining up voters — who could become your patients.

John Morgan says, "If I need to come back in 2016" to reintroduce a medical marijuana initiative, "I'll do it," but he doesn't think he'll need to — "I am absolutely confident [the constitutional amendment] is going to pass."

His campaign manager, Pollara, offers a more sobering view.

"I have data that shows it's going to take a massive effort to bring supporters to the polls and educate very reliable voters who haven't taken a solid position yet," Pollara says. "This is going to be a statewide campaign, with advertising in every major market in Florida and a massive door-to-door operation."

Some wannabe dispensary owners realize they'd be wise to help push voters to the polls. So they're setting up nonprofits to collect donations, creating campaign material, and recruiting volunteers. Contact information they gather could help them identify future patients.

At the March 15 cannabis seminar, one operator set up a table to sell T-shirts stamped with his nonprofit's name, Florida Cannabis Care, and logo depicting a red cross superimposed on top of a marijuana leaf hovering over a green map of the state. A 25-year-old thin man with short blond hair and "Florida Boy" tattooed on his hand, "Joey Pink" (he asked that we not use his real last name) had trekked 173 miles from Melbourne to hawk his T's at $20 a pop.

He said proceeds would be used to sponsor voter registration events. "We want to make sure we do our part," Pink says. "We need to educate the public, especially the older generations, about the benefits of medical marijuana."

Pink says Florida Cannabis Care will provide caregivers. He doesn't want to operate a full-blown dispensary. "I really didn't know anything about the business," Pink says. "I figured out this is what I wanted to do when I attended the Cannabis Career Institute seminar in Orlando."

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DonkeyHotay topcommenter

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.