Florida’s first medical marijuana store is set to open in Tallahassee next week, now that the Florida Department of Health has given it authorization, according to WCTV.
Trulieve is the name of the dispensary that will be opening, and the owners seem excited to start serving their community.
“We are happy to announce that we have passed all inspections — from growing and processing to dispensing — and are the very first medical cannabis provider in the state to receive these formal authorizations. And we are most excited to get this much anticipated medicine to the patients of Florida,” said Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers.
Six companies in Florida have been given the right to cultivate marijuana for future dispensing, according to News-Press. Trulieve will start by selling low-THC marijuana products, meant to treat disorders like epilepsy, and it will sell higher THC marijuana products starting in August. The higher THC marijuana products are meant for terminally ill patients, according to Florida law.
The first company that was given authorization to begin harvesting marijuana in Florida, Surterra Therapeutics, has also been making headlines. According to the Cannabist, the company is storing marijuana in freezers just outside Tallahassee that are protected by armed guards. Horticulturalists are maintaining the facility.
“It’s a very exciting place to be in the medical field in Florida right now, because this is not just a new medication we’re talking about,” said Dr. Joseph Dorn, Surterra’s medical director. “This is a mindset transformation in the treatment of patients, probably tens of thousands of patients whose symptoms are not completely relieved right now.”
The facility that holds the low THC marijuana is 6,000 square feet, and Surterra has another facility for the high potency marijuana that is somewhat smaller. The facilities are surrounded with fences that have barbed wire, and the addresses are kept secret. No marijuana company wants to risk having its facility robbed.
Though support for medical marijuana has been very large in Florida, not all of the state’s top politicians were behind legalizing medical marijuana in the state when it seemed like citizens might vote to do so. Gov. Rick Scott famously opposed legalizing medical marijuana and compared marijuana to vices like alcohol.
“I have a great deal of empathy for people battling difficult diseases and I understand arguments in favor of this initiative. But, having seen the terrible [effects] of alcohol and drug abuse first-hand, I cannot endorse sending Florida down this path and I would personally vote against it,” Scott said in 2013, according to the Huffington Post. “No matter my personal beliefs, however, a ballot initiative would be up to the voters to decide.”
That said, it would seem public will was enough to change the governor’s mind, because Rick Scott ended up signing a medical marijuana expansion this year.
Medical marijuana isn’t just popular in Florida. A Harris poll from last year found 81 percent of Americans support legalizing medical marijuana nationwide. Polls regarding the legalization of recreational marijuana have shown somewhere around 60 percent of Americans support legalization.
There are currently 25 states with medical marijuana. Many other states are expected to vote on medical or recreational marijuana use in November. The state of California is expected to legalize recreational marijuana use in November, according to SFGate, which would make it the largest state to legalize.
The Democratic Party has also put a “pathway to legalization” in its platform during the 2016 election. The Republican Party has not put legalizing marijuana, even just medical marijuana, in its platform.
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