What beneﬁts do you see for patients throughout Florida within this space?
Legal access for MMJ patients in Florida after many decades of total Cannabis prohibition literally saves human lives now. I believe the actual number of lives saved to be in the thousands overall at many diﬀerent levels. And I do mean lives actually saved not just improved upon symptom wise. From natural relief from severe depression and crippling anxiety or PTSD, to managing chronic pain or just giving people a safer natural alternative to harmful excessive drinking or addictive pharma pills, there is no doubt that we all have an extensive upside mentally and physically from this healing plant. To no longer be in constant fear of arrest for using the herb legally in the Sunshine State as medical patients is really a blessing and a huge step in the right direction for Florida. There is still work to be done and we really need legal homegrow here, but we are working on that diligently too!
What motivates you to be a part of the Cannabis Industry?
Well I am a healer with a passion for plants and I really enjoy helping people. It’s who I am and always will be. It takes funding to be able to do good things and help others, or even just give out some cool swag to empower this movement and make someone smile and know they are part of something even bigger than themselves or any single person. This is a movement; Sunshine Cannabis is a movement, and we transcend being just another brand.
We are literally a family, and we love the Sunshine State. I do feel a powerful deep motivation to help bring full legalization and homegrow here to Florida and I feel it’s my obligation to give back to my home state. I’ve had a lifelong relationship with Cannabis primarily as a breeder and grower who got started in the 90’s in South Florida where I grew up. It is a dream come true to be operating legally in this space now after far too long in hiding and living in constant agonizing fear and anxiety. I’m eternally grateful to Kim Rivers the CEO of Trulieve for helping us build the bridge that has enabled myself, my team, and my homegrown brand to do something truly great here and hopefully beyond Florida in the near future. A million thanks would not be enough, so I’ll add an extra special one here. Thank you, Kim!
What ﬁeld are you in within the cannabis space?
I’m the Founder and President of Sunshine Cannabis – A grower, breeder, an advocate for patients and a leading activist for homegrow legalization. My ongoing relationship with Trulieve is primarily that of full-time consulting work regarding my brand which is exclusively licensed to them, and I help manage and oversee many various aspects of, as legal processes allow for. Of course, myself and the team also do a lot of marketing and social media outreach online as well, while we help fund and spearhead eﬀorts here to Free the Plant and legalize homegrow via my direct involvement as an active Board Member with Regulate Florida. I’m one of the co-authors of the recently launched new ballot initiative to legalize Adult Use Cannabis and permit all adults here to grow up to 9 plants per person at home, with no MMJ card required. Our current goal is the 2022 ballot. But it may end up being a more realistic target for 2024 which is a Presidential election year and gives us a much higher potential for passage and success.
As far as Regulate Florida goes progress wise, we do have a lot of signatures, community support, and massive online engagement right now helping to spread the message far and wide, but we really are pressed for time to get enough signatures from registered voters this election cycle as we are faced with a ﬁnal deadline of the end of this year for all practical purposes. The ﬁnal state mandated deadline is Feb 1st for ballots to have been turned in and veriﬁed, but they require a minimum 30 days for veriﬁcation time prior to that so even though it says Feb 1st in the oﬃcial rules from the state you really do not get until that date, it’s 30 days prior. This is but one example of why we are ﬁghting an uphill battle to get legalization and homegrow on the ballot and it sounds a lot easier than it’s done with the signature requirements continuing to increase as well compared to when Amendment 2 was voted on and ﬁnally succeeded the second time on the ballot in 2016. Reaching Florida Supreme Court review for our petition is deﬁnitely a major goal as well currently and ﬁrst and foremost, but again, we are simply very pressed for time and due to delays and judicial obstruction from the state and their ongoing eﬀorts to thwart ballot initiatives like ours we were not able to launch until middle to late September of this year. We are luckily prepared to triple down on our eﬀorts moving forward if need be to next year and we are conﬁdent that together we can all help make this positive change for Florida as fast as the legal election process allows for and as quickly as we can obtain the nearly million signatures required. You can read more about the legalization petition or download it at RegulateFlorida.com/petition
How can people in Florida beneﬁt from the company you represent?
I believe every day is another opportunity for us all to make more informed and healthier decisions about our wellness using natural alternatives like the Cannabis plant in its many forms, and for many Floridians the only previous barrier was not being able to legally do so.
Access to your favorite MMJ store locally and safe lab tested meds with reliable product availability are key points to accomplishing the above. I feel we are addressing this in a best-case scenario with our partner Trulieve, the clear market leader in Florida with the most locations and best infrastructure to help us provide exceptional Medical Cannabis products to the most patients possible. We are eternally grateful for that opportunity and the resulting ability to provide the best medicine in every single Trulieve dispensary. A million thank you’s would not be enough so I will add an extra thank you here to Kim Rivers, and everyone else who helps make that spectacular feat possible for us and our hundreds of thousands of patients who rely on Sunshine Cannabis.
Are you personally a MJ card holder?
Absolutely yes, and a very early one at that even before we had legal ﬂower sales here but luckily, we had our highly eﬀective and very reliable Sunshine TruPODs which in many cases can really be superior medicine because of its high potency and consistency in eﬀects, and they last a very long time. I recommend that everyone who is qualiﬁed under the current state guidelines obtain their medical card and get legal if you have not already done so. It is your constitutional right under Amendment 2 and you should absolutely invoke that right and not have to worry about breaking the laws anymore regarding your personal medical use of this plant. I rely on my Afghan Moon vape cart or TruPOD. It is deﬁnitely my favorite Indica for anxiety and sleep. It’s an amazing product that really works and we are all blessed to have legal access to it as patients, so get your card! Yes, that means you reading this.
Do you see Florida moving forward with recreational Marijuana/cannabis and how will that aﬀect your business?
Quite simply put, YES. But it’s not going to happen by itself. We have to aﬀect that change here and create it which we are clearly playing a major active role in and spearheading the eﬀort to do so. Our business can only grow and beneﬁt from legalization at many levels and more importantly it is the right thing to do for people and for society. Homegrow is the great equalizer and it’s the ultimate form of increased access to be able to legally grow your own. It’s how I got started and my humble beginnings in the late 90’s as a grower and as a lifelong supporter and believer in the Cannabis plant. It is something I am dedicated to helping us all achieve in our Sunshine State. Like I have always said “We Shall Overgrow!” I do believe together we will, it’s a win-win for us all and it can only make Florida shine even brighter.
Chris “Sunshine” Williams has dedicated his life to advocacy and activism for Cannabis reform. As President/Founder of Sunshine Cannabis and a Director on the board of Regulate Florida, he works tirelessly to Free the Plant in the Sunshine State for all Floridians while also operating one of the largest and most popular Cannabis brands in Florida as a partner of Trulieve with dozens of branded MMJ products available in all Trulieve locations statewide.