FORT WALTON BEACH — A medical marijuana dispensary hosted its grand opening Friday morning at the corner of Mary Esther Cut-Off and Marilyn Avenue.
People were waiting outside when Trulieve, a licensed medical cannabis provider in Florida, opened its doors. The already small parking lot was completely full.
“There’s a hunger out there for folks to be in control of their medication and in control of their medical journey,” said Kim Rivers, CEO of Trulieve.
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Fort Walton Beach is the company’s 43rd location in Florida. It has three other locations in the area: Pensacola, Panama City Beach and Destin.
The company has roots in Northwest Florida, Rivers said. Trulieve is headquartered in Tallahassee.
“This is home for us,” Rivers said. “We are dedicated to Northwest Florida and the Panhandle region.”
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Laura Miller of Niceville came out to support the new facility. She has been a patient for three years and said the effects have improved her life.
“It allows me to do things that I wouldn’t be able to do otherwise,” Miller said.
There are many others who have been helped by medical marijuana.
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Rivers said Trulieve’s staff hears stories of patients who use the medicine for a variety of illnesses, from veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder to Parkinson’s disease.
“We really are serving a purpose,” she said.
During a speech at the grand opening, Rivers said there is talk in the state capitol about adding a 10% cap on the amount of THC that will be allowed in medical marijuana.
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“So we’re always trying to keep up to speed and make sure we are a bridge between what’s happening at the capitol and bringing that information back to our patients and community,” she said.