Miami Attorney Seeks To Capitalize On Buzz Over Medical Marijuana
As Florida prepares for a medical marijuana referendum, lawyers—smelling big profits— are scrambling to start niche practices advising marijuana dispensaries and growers and even open their own businesses.
Miami criminal defense attorney Jeffrey Feiler, past president of the Miami chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, launched Grass Roots Marijuana Florida Inc. this month. He's selling store franchises throughout the state, charging $25,000 for reservations and $75,000 for franchises.
Feiler said he is in a good position to launch marijuana dispensaries because he helped his ex-wife, former Miami-Dade County Court Judge Loree Schwartz Feiler, and his daughter, Ally Feiler, set up a medical marijuana businesses in Colorado in 2009.
The Feilers are now opening their fourth Colorado store under the name Green Tree Medicinals. The company offers more than 120 products ranging from loose marijuana bearing names like Romulan White Widow and Super Lemon Haze to edibles and tinctures.
"I was there assisting them, acting as legal counsel to the various medical marijuana businesses that initially my daughter pioneered," said Feiler, a prosecutor under former Miami-Dade State Attorney Janet Reno. "The way I see it, I have more experience with this than anyone in Florida, from a legal and business standpoint on how the business works. It's only natural that I would get involved in this in Florida."
Additionally, Feiler said most of his criminal defense clients face various marijuana offenses.
He hopes to sell up to 100 franchises throughout the state. He said eight territories have been reserved, some by lawyers. Feiler is taking fully refundable reservations until he has full franchise documents prepared. He has hired two lawyers to work on establishing the business and plans to continue practicing law once his business is up and running.
"I obviously take my practice seriously, but obviously I'm going to have to scale back," Feiler said, adding he foresees no problems with The Florida Bar. "This is purely a business. This is like CVS pharmacy."
Feiler said he doesn't feel he is launching the business too early. The state constitutional amendment is set for a November vote, and several polls indicate a strong majority of Floridians would approve the measure. Sixty percent backing is required.
Orlando attorney John Morgan of Morgan & Morgan bankrolled the petition drive and is closely allied with former Gov. Charlie Crist, who supports the amendment and wants to return to the governor's mansion. Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi oppose the amendment.