Last week, the Florida Legislature held a special session to address issues that weren’t covered during the regular session. 

One was the implementation of Amendment 2, which was approved by 71 percent of voters who agree with the use of medical marijuana for certain medical conditions.

Meanwhile, medical marijuana dispensing organizations have poised themselves to help people seeking relief. One of them, Trulieve, opened a location near The Villages on Tuesday.

The Villages Daily Sun spoke to Kim Rivers, chief executive officer for Trulieve, about its latest dispensary in the Oakland Hills Professional Plaza, 13940 U.S. Highway 27/441, Suite 601, and the future of the medical marijuana industry in the state.

How is Trulieve different from other dispensing organizations in the state?

Trulieve was the first fully licensed medical cannabis company in Florida, originally licensed as the dispensing organization for the Northwest region. We grow in a climate-controlled environment indoors and it’s very compartmentalized, so we can control plant health and plant growth in a more one-on-one setting with the plants as opposed to a massive space. Also, we sought out the most stringent lab standards in the country and have implemented those. We do both in-house testing and third-party lab testing. Also, what makes us unique right now in Florida is that we post lab results for our patients. Any time you buy a product from us, you can look up the product by the batch number and see all the testing that has been done 
on that product.

What is the name of the nursery that is growing the product?

We are licensed as George Hackney Inc. It’s a third-generation nursery in Northwest Florida. This is also another very unique point. We have three nurseries that came together to form Trulieve — George Hackney Inc. in Quincy, May Nursery in Havana and Simpson Nursery out of Monticello. Our North Florida roots run very, very deep.

What were your thoughts during the legislative sessions?

I think with any complex issue there are always some positives and negatives related to legislation, and this issue is no different. I think it will continue to evolve as the industry matures. We’re thrilled that the legislature was able to unanimously agree on the elimination of the 90-day (waiting period). It’s been really difficult for patients and us, as well. There have been heartbreaking stories of folks who passed away during their 90 days and they could’ve been helped. Also, bringing clarity to the fact that Amendment 2 is now 100 percent implemented here and patients who have those additional conditions are able to seek out this medication. And that the medication will not be taxed. We have been collecting sales tax as instructed from the Department of Revenue and now we have clear direction that we no longer have to and that is cost savings we can pass along to our patients.