First Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Florida
Author: Justin Mckibben
The time has come. Florida’s first medical marijuana dispensary is scheduled to open next week, just two years after Florida Governor Rick Scott and lawmakers gave the approval. Marijuana reforms, both medical and recreational in nature, have taken up grassroots and sprouted in several states across the country over the last couple years. Now, the mad dash is on to see who can capitalize on the budding medical marijuana dispensary business.
The recovery community is strong and full of young people in Florida. But Florida is also full of people who say their communities are being saturated with addicts from all areas of the country. While that is a debate for another time, I ask what will the impact on the community look like when marijuana is more accessible than ever.
Do You Trulieve?
The Florida Department of Health now allows Trulieve, a marijuana grower from North Florida, to act as a dispensary. The heart of this new legal operation is set you up in Tallahassee, Florida. Law makers have also allowed for the medical marijuana dispensary to eventually start delivering their medicinal cannabis statewide.
Trulieve is set to open Tuesday. This history-making medical marijuana dispensary will be the first time in the state with strains of the drug low in THC to provide for cancer and seizure patients. THC itself is the chemical that causes a euphoric high. Many states are taking a similar approach and trying to diminish the amount of people who would use recreationally, while still providing an alternative and impactful medicine.
To access medical marijuana legally under the program Florida has in place, patients must:
- Be approved by a doctor who has passed a medical cannabis course
- Place an order with any of the licensed dispensaries in the state
According to Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers, plans to open additional dispensaries outside Tallahassee.
While Trulieve may be Florida’s first medical marijuana dispensary, it is sure not to be the only one for long. Five additional medical marijuana dispensary programs will be joining the business. These 5 are currently growing and extracting oil from cannabis, according to the Department of Health. One of these growers is Alpha/Surterra, based in Tampa and Tallahassee. This medical marijuana dispensary just had its first harvest last week and plans to start selling later this summer.
Positives for Patients
One aspect of this is that many, many patients and advocates have been waiting a while for this. This wait was prolonged by legal challenges and the drafting of state regulations. Some people feel they had to push a little harder to get something done. Moriah Barnhart of Tampa is a founder of the organization CannaMoms. Her 5-year-old daughter Dahlia was diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer, and 2 years ago she decided to gather together an effort aimed at helping make medical cannabis more accepted as a medication.
Barnhart admits that without a legitimate medical marijuana dispensary most people are forced to find other more illegal strategies. Barnhart has been using cannabis oil since 2013 with the claim that it’s had a dramatic effect. Her daughter Dahlia’s pain drops drastically and her appetite of course increases.
That being said, when you realize most of these patients are young children it is no wonder a task force of mothers were willing to do whatever it takes. State law now allows dispensaries to sell cannabis oil to be:
- Taken as a pill
- Consumed by methods other than smoking
While only low level THC is available to most patients, full-strength medical marijuana will be available for terminally ill patients in early August. Beyond that, a wider range of conditions permitted access to full-strength marijuana is under consideration. If a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana passes in this November’s election, it may be easier to get.
With drug addiction, no matter how legal the substance may be or how available the state makes it, there are threatening risks when using. Substituting one drug for another doesn’t let you grow into a life of freedom, and relying on one drug to cope with anything is a sign of someone seriously struggling.
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