Pubdate: Sat, 14 Jul 2018 Source: Orlando Sentinel (FL) Copyright: 2018 Orlando Sentinel Contact: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/325 Author: Marco Santana MARIJUANA ADVOCATES PROMOTE EDUCATION AMIDST GROWING LEGALIZATION PUSH A budding medical marijuana industry has slowly been gaining acceptance in Central Florida as lawmakers consider regulations and the number of approved dispensaries grow. But as medicinal solutions land most of the support, advocates say it's only a matter of time before full legalization lands on the table. At the Orlando Marijuana Expo, a workshop and advocacy event Saturday at UCF, attorney Carrie McClain said the piecemeal approach to legalization would not be effective but has helped build some momentum. "It has to be horizontal or we have no chance," said McClain, a cannabis counselor with Oceanside Cannabis in Jacksonville. "The only way we leverage this (momentum) is proper education and events like this." McClain made the comments at an expo during the workshop, which showcased about three dozen businesses, advocacy groups and educational centers from across Florida. The state has become one of the more active battlegrounds in a national conversation about legalizing marijuana. On Wednesday, protesters surrounded Lake Eola in downtown Orlando to ask Gov. Rick Scott to drop his appeals of a lawsuit brought by Orlando attorney John Morgan to allow smokeable marijuana. A spokeswoman for Scott noted that medical marijuana has been made available to more than 130,000 patients in Florida. The event Saturday featured a variety of viewpoints when it comes to marijuana use. Advocates for full legalization rubbed elbows with those who primarily promoted medical-use marijuana. Others were there selling gear and others wanted to encourage those in attendance to write their legislators to support their viewpoints. "It's a good thing because people can walk around and decide for themselves," said Keith Hughes, an engagement manager for Knox Cannabis Dispensary. "Not everyone is here for the medical aspect of this but that's solely our focus. But it's a bit of a benefit that you can come in here and take in what you want." Hughes said he has seen opinions shift as opinion polls skew toward legalization. In the November 2016 general election more than 70 percent of Florida voters approved medical marijuana. "Growing up, it was taboo and illegal," Hughes said. "But minds are changing now about this." At the event, Kyle Trent stood in front of a booth in which his brother, Kole, painted scenes with lush marijuana plants. On a table, a series of small cardboard stand-up cutouts of characters Kole has created based upon strains of marijuana. There's the lightsaber toting Skywalker OG or Maui Waui, who carries around a ukulele and wears a lei. He said holding events like Saturday's is imperative to build momentum behind the legalization push. "Events like this get the correct information and the correct people in front of those who want more information," he said. "Florida wants this but we need to be educated about it. We are trying to shine a light on cannabis and push it out there."