GAINESVILLE, Fla. –  A Tallahassee-based medical marijuana company further expanded operations this week, opening its doors to patients in Alachua County.

Trulieve’s newest dispensary is the second one to open in Gainesville this year. Knox Medical, a Winter Garden-based medical marijuana treatment center (MMTC), first opened its doors in the college town back in May.

Trulieve will hold a grand opening for the new dispensary on Friday at 1527 Northwest 6th Street in Gainesville. The new location is expected to offer a variety of low and high-THC products, available in various deliverable forms, consistent with other Trulieve dispensaries.

“Our goal is to be everywhere where there is a population of patients,” said Victoria Walker, Trulieve community relations spokesperson. “We’ve been delivering to Gainesville for some time now and our patients are not shy about telling us where they would like us to be.”

This will be the 11th medical marijuana dispensary Trulieve has opened in Florida since July of last year. Currently, the company leads its competitors in the brick and mortar race, with storefronts in Bradenton, Clearwater, Edgewater, Jacksonville, Miami, Pensacola, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee, Tampa, Lady Lake and now, Gainesville.

Trulieve was the first MMTC to open a dispensary in Duval County, followed by Knox Medical shortly thereafter. The Jacksonville storefront sees anywhere from 40 to 60 customers per day depending on the week, according to Walker.

“We’ve seen over 15,000 patients here in Florida, which is really exciting and I think where you have more physicians in a town or in a city, you’re going to have more patients,” said Walker.

Of the 1,043 physicians who are legally registered with the Florida Department of Health, approximately 45 exist between Duval and Alachua County. The number of registered patients in the state has been exponentially increasing since the beginning of the year. As of October, there are more than 47,000 patients, a sharp increase from the 11,000 who were registered just six months ago.

Trulieve’s website lists an additional 15 future locations where the company plans to open shop. Storefronts planned for Fort Myers and Hollywood are currently under construction. Walker said a Trulieve dispensary in North Fort Myers will most likely open next, followed by one in Orlando.

“The more stores that we open, it just helps everybody,” Walker said. “It helps the patients. It helps our relationship with the physicians in the area who are recommending this product for patients and it helps education.”

There are now 12 licensed medical marijuana companies in the State of Florida, five less than were required by Oct. 3, according to a bill approved by Gov. Rick Scott in June. Senate Bill 8Aalso effectively capped licensed MMTCs to opening just 25 dispensaries statewide.

Half of the companies currently licensed under the vertically integrated state system have yet to pass required authorization from the Florida Department of Health to begin dispensing medical marijuana. A recent licensee, Jacksonville-based Loop’s Nursery and Greenhouses, is one of those companies.

Despite the sluggish rollout of new licenses and a burdensome authorization process, companies like Trulieve are not waiting on the FDOH to expand the marijuana marketplace.

“We’ve just had great response in the 10 cities we’ve been in so far,” Walker said. “So, we hope to accomplish the same goal in Gainesville.”

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