Gainesville, Fla. (WCJB) -- As a relatively new market to Florida's economy, the topic of marijuana raised many questions at a meeting sponsored by the MLK Jr. Commission of Florida. The possibility of legalizing recreational marijuana could reach Florida voters in November. Residents like Art Alston attended and said what he was most interested to learn about.
"Well once I saw about this, this event; I thought it would be very informative to learn about the possible legalization of recreational marijuana here in Gainesville. There could be a huge economic boost as a result of legalizing marijuana."
The event hosted a panel of researchers, legal experts, government officials and hemp industry entrepreneurs. Each offering their view on the marijuana industry from topics of criminal justice to university research programs. Holly Bell serves as Florida's first Director of Cannabis.
"What it has brought to our economy here are jobs, especially in some rural areas that really needed those jobs... And the taxes, the money people spend from those jobs, and then the build-out of these facilities that are all over our state. So that's been very helpful for our economy."
With questions answered and concerns addressed, the process of getting recreational marijuana on the 2020 state ballot was explained. Matthew Bowman is a licensed hemp farmer in South Carolina and Micanopy farmer.
"We're super excited about the hemp industry and what it has, as an opportunity for all the Floridians. And once the state comes down with the rules, I'm confident that the African American community will jump in a big way into hemp farming."
The marijuana-themed town hall symposium focused on educating and interacting with members of the community. But in particular, the young minority community was targeted and encouraged to join Florida's marijuana industry, especially if recreational marijuana becomes legalized.