Florida Medical Marijuana User Estimates Vary Widely

Oct 21, 2013

Medical marijuana plant
Credit Rollorollo69 (Wikimedia Commons)

Financial-impact estimators are gathering data on medical marijuana to calculate the costs and benefits for Florida if voters pass a proposed constitutional amendment legalizing the drug. At a public hearing Monday morning the group’s estimates of how many people would use medical marijuana varied widely.

The medical marijuana initiative would allow doctors to issue certificates allowing the smoking of cannabis by people with "debilitating medical conditions," to be defined at doctors' discretion. Orlando attorney John Morgan has been promoting the campaign with 60-second ads played around the state.

But on Monday, Office of Economic and Demographic Research analyst Vasselka McAlarney said different prediction methods produce dramatically different results.

“There may be anywhere between 450 medical marijuana users to 400,000," she said, according to one estimating method. Another method predicted at least 1.6 million users in the state.

Estimators are trying to weighing the costs of a new database for registered patients against potential revenues from sales and property taxes, among other factors. They expect to have firm estimates in early November.