On Tuesday, the first medical marijuana dispensary opened in Pensacola, a first for the Gulf Coast and Northwest Florida.
Trulieve, one of seven licensed cannabis dispensing companies in Florida, opened its new dispensary at 3119 N. Davis Highway, allowing patients from across the state to purchase marijuana products.
“We are proud to open our fourth dispensary and our first in the Pensacola area,” said Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers. “This opening is especially exciting because we maintain our headquarters in the panhandle and are deeply committed to our patients here. We also have our statewide home delivery program and will have more dispensary locations opening this year,” added Rivers.
The dispensary will sell products with both low and high amounts of THC, the main active chemical in marijuana, and delivery systems that include capsules, vaporizers, and tinctures to patients who are approved for medical cannabis through Florida’s Compassionate Use Registry system.
An amendment to legalize the use of medical marijuana passed by a wide margin last November. Amendment 2, which makes it legal to use marijuana to treat a limited number of medical conditions, was approved by a vote of more than 6.3 million Floridians who voted in favor of medical marijuana, versus just 2.5 million who voted no.
Amendment 2 explicitly allows Floridians to use marijuana to treat ten specific conditions, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, and several other diseases. The amendment also includes language allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana for treatment of other debilitating medical conditions “of the same kind or class as, or comparable to” the diseases specifically mentioned in the amendment.
With the opening of the first dispensary in Pensacola, other Northwest Florida municipalities are following suit in permitting dispensaries across their communities. In Fort Walton Beach, the city council voted unanimously to adopt an ordinance that will make medical marijuana dispensaries a permitted use in certain zoning districts of the city. Fort Walton Beach is now the second municipality to legalize the dispensaries.
The ordinance allows medical marijuana dispensaries in commercial and mixed use zoning districts. Among the standards listed are a minimum distance requirement from school buildings and a limit of one licensed dispensary for every 10,000 residents.
“Medical marijuana was supported by the majority of Florida voters, and it’s coming,” said City Manager Michael Beedie. “We want to send the message that we’ve done the research and that we want to be at the table as the State moves forward with legislation. We will be the only city in Okaloosa County that hasn’t done a moratorium.”
In January, the Crestview City Council voted to ban all medicinal marijuana practices within city limits until at least September. The ban prohibits growing, cultivating, manufacturing, distributing and selling of medicinal marijuana in the city. The City of Milton in Santa Rosa County also has enacted a ban on medical marijuana businesses.
Opponents to the use of the plant have argued that medical marijuana is the first step toward decriminalization or legalization of marijuana for recreational purpose, as has happened in other states.
When asked if the new ordinance opens the door to discussions of recreational use, Beedie said that there is no provision for recreational use within the approved ordinance and that the current focus is solely on the research and implementation for medical needs. “Right now, we’re only addressing medical use, said Beedie. “We’re not even going to talk about recreational use until it gets brought up on a ballot.”
“Right now, we’re only addressing medical use, said Beedie. “We’re not even going to talk about recreational use until it gets brought up on a ballot.”