Retirees on St. Pete Beach have big plans for the medical marijuana industry

Tampa Bay Times

By Justine Griffin

While Florida politicians have butted heads over how to regulate the growing medical marijuana industry this year, Tom Murphy and Michael Welch have been busy working behind the scenes to try to ensure their company gets a piece of it.

Murphy, 71, and Welch, 79, are two of the founders of Gulf Coast Canna Meds, a burgeoning medical marijuana company in St. Petersburg that wants to distribute cannabis products to patients in Florida. They’re just one of many groups in Florida eager to be part of this growing new medical industry. But that’s easier said than done.

While Florida voters have overwhelmingly voted to make medical marijuana legal, it’s been up to the Legislature to translate how it will work. To many, it may seem like a basic humanitarian issue for patients who want simple and affordable access to medical marijuana — but it’s not. There’s a lot at stake.

“We’re the guys on the outside looking in,” said Murphy, a former beer distributor who retired to St. Pete Beach. “We learned that the small business man didn’t stand much of a chance in Tallahassee with the bills that were being discussed. We’re small business people. We’re not these deep-pocketed cartels. We’re the free enterprise people. The mom and pops.”

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