A second Gainesville medical marijuana dispensary will open Friday.

Trulieve, a medical marijuana dispensary, will open its first Gainesville location at 1527 NW 6th St. in the Gateway Park area, said Victoria Walker, who works in community relations for the company.

Trulieve will join Knox Medical as one of the two medical marijuana dispensaries in Gainesville — its second to open within the last five months. Knox Medical opened May 19.

Upon Trulieve’s opening, patients — depending on the severity of their illness — can choose from an assortment of low THC and high THC products with various delivery methods, including capsules, vaporizers, syringes and tinctures, an alcoholic extract of cannabis, the release says.

At its grand opening Friday, there will be a press conference at 10 a.m. followed by a tour of the dispensary.

Walker said the company saw a need for the dispensary in Gainesville. She said the company already served Gainesville patients through its delivery program, so a Gainesville dispensary made sense.

“With a patient base only continuing to grow, we thought it would be nice to open up (a dispensary) there,” she said. “A lot of patients like going into our stores and seeing what we have to offer.”

While marijuana remains illegal under federal law, Florida voters approved Amendment 2 in 2016 that made medical marijuana available to those who qualify for it under certain medical conditions and diseases.

These medical conditions and diseases include cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Multiple sclerosis (MS).

Medical conditions comparable to those that have been defined by law, terminal conditions and chronic nonmalignant pain may also qualify someone for medical marijuana, according to a Florida Department of Health Office of Medical Marijuana Use website.

University of Florida Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine Robert Cook said he believes there is a strong interest in medical marijuana as an alternative to such prescription medicines like opioids. He said he believes this growing interest has changed opinions surrounding marijuana in recent years among those in the Florida.

“I think in some way that shows there is less stigma,” he said. “Before, voters would have thought it was a terrible thing.”

However, Cook, who is currently studying the effects of medical marijuana on those suffering from HIV, said there are still steps that need to be taken before medical marijuana researchers truly understand the effects of medical marijuana.

Most of the current data on the benefits of medical marijuana comes from dispensaries who are trying to sell a product, he said, adding by saying that, he didn’t want sound like he was discrediting their work. 

Cook conceded that some data may conclude medicinal marijuana to be beneficial to some, but there is not enough evidence yet to determine it has the same effect on everyone, he said.

He said the National Academy of Science and other science publications published studies earlier in the year, detailing what researchers currently know about the benefits of marijuana. 

″(The studies) conclude that we know very little,” he said.

Trulieve has several new medical marijuana dispensaries in the works for Florida, with potentially two more planned for Gainesville, according to a release. Trulieve has 10 other locations in Bradenton, Clearwater, Edgewater, Jacksonville, Miami, Pensacola, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee, Tampa, and Lady Lake.

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