This is an opportunistic look into an industry that could flourish.
Miami is far behind the rest of the United States in the Cannabis scene.
While most other major desirable cities have an existing industry for Marijuana, Florida has still not decriminalized possession.
For Medical Marijuana patients, the options are few.
There’s no presence of Cannabis at all as you walk the booming neighborhoods of Miami near Brickell, Downtown, Edgewater, Wynwood, and South to Coconut Grove and Coral Gables.
Every once in a while you will pass a smoke shop that has a “CBD” or “Delta 8” sign in the window.
This is the normal way in Florida, but it seems oddly archaic when you visit or have lived in a state with legalized Cannabis.
There’s no doubt that the demand exists. Florida ranks as the #5 state with inbound moves at 62%.
Where are these people moving from?
New Jersey, Illinois, New York, Connecticut, California, Michigan, and Massachusetts… all states where Cannabis is at the minimum decriminalized.
At the maximum, states like California, Michigan, and Massachusetts have established recreational Marijuana industries.
Even without facts, it doesn’t take long if you’re walking around Miami Beach or Brickell to walk past the sweet smell of Marijuana in the air.
People are still smoking and still getting high, just as they always have, but the illegality of it promotes unnecessary criminal activity.
There’s been an outcry to “clean up” Miami Beach in particular, where 11.6 million people visited in 2020 during a pandemic, down from 24.2 million in 2019.
Helping Miami residents aside (we’ll cover that later), why not use Cannabis as an innovative way to promote a growing industry on Miami Beach?
Instead of policing “criminal activity”, why not use Cannabis to promote local business initiatives throughout the City of Miami Beach?
After all, we are talking about Miami, right?!
A place that was built from the fortunes of drug money.
A place that wants to be an innovative hub through Cryptocurrency.
It’s a place that supports the rights and freedoms of individuals, but not with a plant.
Miami Beach has relatively loose regulations with alcohol consumption and bars.
Last call is at 5 a.m., which many believe drives the poor behavior that has led to the downfall of a once desirable beach scene.
Technically, alcohol is banned on the beach, but pick any spot to lay your beach towel and underneath it will be littered with empty plastic shot glasses.
People openly drink on the beach and even sell alcohol on the beach.
The intoxication level at sunset is so high that people fight and act out in careless ways.
This is leading to the danger.
What if we could clean up the beach (literally and physically) but also promote industry?
Instead of spending more money fighting a losing battle with policing people, why not create a safer environment?
Here’s a list of recommendations:
- Permit certain vendors on and around the beach
- Create a section of the beach that allows smoking Cannabis (no cigarettes)
- City of Miami Beach directly permits pop-up shops for Cannabis related businesses
Miami beach currently bans food truck vendors and any mobile operation.
It is likely that there are concerns about space and preventing the annoyance of street solicitations for visitors.
There is enough space on Miami Beach to block off an area just north of 25th street that would allow mobile vendors.
In 2022, the idea of brick and mortar business is not the only way.
Many businesses are developing changes around consumer demand and competing without insurmountable overhead costs.
Supporting small business means supporting someone who can’t afford a $10,000-$25,000 per month in rent alone on Miami Beach to open a business.
It’s also not permissible to gain a permit to sell directly on the beach.
Working around this concept is delicate.
On one end, people do not deserve to be harassed while they are enjoying the beach.
With that said, it’s convenient to buy things on the beach and not have to leave your chair.
If the city establishes zoning areas and rules for when and how to sell things, this could benefit everyone (including tax revenues for the city).
Smoking Section of the Beach
Most of the action on Miami Beach right now is between 5th street and 15th street (Lummus Park).
This means that a lot of intoxicated people are cramming together to use the beach and the surrounding facilities.
If they designated a section of the beach outside of the primary zone of the beach for smoking Cannabis, this would lower the density of patrons inside the main problem zone of Miami Beach.
This zone would also concentrate the potential area of litter from smoking.
By hiring people to clean this proposed section of the beach, more jobs are being created.
If there’s no room to hire more people, a shift in existing resources should manage any potential litter.
Smokers need to be respectful of non-smokers, families, and children.
This would mean proposing an area outside of the primary zone of Miami Beach.
As you travel North on Miami Beach, there is far less traffic and industry.
Many of the buildings are from the “old Miami” style and are empty or only partially inhabited.
There is currently a lack of demand in these areas that remains to be filled.
Miami Beach Cannabis Program
Miami Beach currently offers a program for pop-up businesses on Miami Beach.
The economic development program itself isn’t horrible – you pay the city $250 for the permit.
This is certainly a cost that almost any small business could handle.
The problem is that the program requires a small business to work out the terms of a retail space on their own.
The city has no dedicated space for the program.
The conflict of interest is obvious – commercial real estate agents, brokers, and owners have little to no interest in renting a space for one month.
They often ask for leases of 3 to 5 years, while in rare cases it can be as little as 1 year.
It’s not likely that a business will find a one or two month commercial lease for a space.
If they can, there is likely going to be a huge premium, especially if it’s Cannabis related.
The city should take charge of this program and use it to infuse life into the areas of Miami Beach that are desolate.
There are endless amounts of buildings that are on the beach or close enough to it that are not being used.
Businesses could use these areas to build industry back into other sections of Miami Beach that were once popular many decades ago.
Support Cannabis, support small business, and collect more tax revenues from the increase in business.
No one seeks these areas out now anyway, so why not use the space more constructively?
Beyond the tourist industry in Miami, there is a local scene that supports the ideals of Cannabis use.
It’s hard to understand where the law and the culture meet, because Florida doesn’t release information about arrests or demographics for Marijuana possession.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) did a study in 2018 profiling each state’s summary for Marijuana related possession arrests and demographics.
49 of 50 states either published or were participants in the report.
Florida was the only state that denied the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for this information.
Everyone knows Miami is a social butterflies paradise, with outdoor restaurants, bars, and social clubs on every street corner of the city.
This would be the perfect opportunity to incorporate the benefits of Miami’s warm climate with Cannabis.
The weather allows for a 12 month industry versus colder climates where the winter time is slower for a lot of businesses.
There’s no need to worry about ventilation in an outdoor area, and Miami has an abundance of outdoor areas.
Don’t forget, this is the same state where you could smoke inside a restaurant until 2003.
There’s also a booming art scene in Miami – an entire neighborhood dedicated to art in Wynwood.
Wynwood is considered an “up-and-coming” area just north of downtown that is using art initiatives to clean up the neighborhood and attract more people to visit, work, and live there.
The art scene is bringing with it other industries like boutique shopping, restaurants, and high-rise living buildings.
As you drive around, you can’t help but notice the building walls are lined with colorful art murals.
There’s also converted spaces dedicated to studios and art exhibits.
Local artists and world renowned artists both visit Wynwood to create projects like the Wynwood Walls.
Art and Cannabis have a long history together.
There’s even published studies from scientists that Marijuana makes you more creative.
It would be the perfect combination to continue the transformation of Wynwood by adding in Cannabis to the mix.
There’s still a lot of open space there.
It’s outside of the downtown area (for those not in favor of the Cannabis industry), and it would further excel the desired gentrification of the Wynwood and Edgewater areas of Miami.
Cannabis has the power to bring people together, and this could do the same locally in Miami.
This can be done by:
- Legalizing Marijuana in Florida
- Offering easy accessibility for micro-business and growing licenses
- Incentivizing business in certain economic zones
Legalizing Marijuana in Florida
Before legalization, there needs to at least be decriminalization of Marijuana.
Moving towards legality means changing the perception and culture around Cannabis.
Instead of treating it as a “drug” with policing, decriminalization is an acceptance of use.
Legalization is an acceptance of culture.
Florida has had several failed legalization ballots, with the next one coming up in 2022.
A problem that plagues most states with legalization is that pay-to-play systems for business application licenses make it almost impossible for lower and middle-class people to get legally involved in the industry.
Micro-business licenses lower these capital requirements, but the key to success is not severely limiting these licenses.
Allow the market to develop with participants and competition.
Florida is one of the few places where Cannabis can grow all year.
Promoting farm initiatives for Cannabis is an easy way for Florida to become a worldly player in Cannabis exporting.
Just like when we think of oranges we think of “Florida-grown”, there is still time and opportunity for the same with Cannabis.
Cannabis Economic Zones
We covered this a couple times already in the tourism section and also again when discussing the Wynwood area of Miami.
There are large neighborhoods of Miami that are unused and locked in time.
Some of them, like the Deauville Hotel, probably aren’t worth rehabilitation.
Others could be the perfect opportunity to increase demand in Miami and spread out the concentration of people and tourists.
There is no point in leaving this up to individual building owners.
There needs to be a larger initiative on the city and state level to create programs that lead to mutual benefit for Miami, its residents, and its visitors.
The demand exists, but the action to capture a piece of the Cannabis industry does not.
For those who want to get high legally in Miami, Delta-8 THC is a popular cannabinoid sold throughout Florida.
It uses a “loophole” with the federally legal Hemp plant to synthesize a high similar to Marijuana.
There’s a debate about the health of using Delta-8, and its popularity is further proof that Florida wants to get high.
Regardless of your opinions of Delta-8, it’s quickly become one of the most profitable cannabinoids over the course of a year.
Those arguing against it are concerned that it lacks regulation and health guidelines.
There isn’t powerful evidence to suggest its use leads to negative health effects.
There is always an outcry to regulate intoxicating goods and keep them out of the hands of kids.
It makes sense in the long run to legalize Marijuana for many reasons, but one of them is that kids are 8% less likely to use it in states where it is legal.
Regulation is a good thing for many reasons, but we prove continuing to waste resources regulating to prevent use does not work.
Miami, Florida, and all other states that still haven’t legalized Cannabis need to accept reality.
After that, regulation is a good thing to ensure that quality products are being sold to the right people.
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