Now open — a marijuana dispensary not far from Florida’s Capitol

Dallas Nagy, Florida's first medical marijuana patient, picking up his product.
Dallas Nagy, Florida’s first medical marijuana patient, picking up his product.

A new Florida attraction — the first medical marijuana dispensary –– opened Tuesday on a stretch of road five miles from the state Capitol.

Trulieve is the first of Florida’s six marijuana licensees to be fully approved to process and dispense state-approved non-euphoric marijuana oil statewide.

The oil is low in tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC — which gives marijuana its psychoactive quality — but high in cannabadiol, or CBD, which research shows eases convulsions, inflammation, anxiety and nausea.

“This has been a long road,” said Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers, who opened the doors of the company’s carefully designed dispensary to media and supporters.

Florida’s first medical marijuana patient, Dallas Nagy, 56, of Pasco County, who suffers from severe seizures, also was on hand to pick up a supply of his medication. Trulieve offers a range of products in capsule, liquid or inhaler form.

A menu of marijuana products is available at Tallahassee's Trulieve
A menu of marijuana products is available at Tallahassee’s Trulieve

The products are manufactured in a laboratory that is part of the company’s indoor grow house at a plant nursery in nearby Quincy.

“It’s like walking into NASA,” said Dr. Ken Brummel-Smith, a Tallahassee gerontologist serving as medical director for Trulieve.

For patients and their families, Tuesday’s open house at Trulieve was a day they sometimes feared would never come.

The company only was cleared last week by the state’s Health Department to produce and distribute products to patients — a year-and-a-half past the state’s original Jan. 1, 2015 start date for making the strain of medical marijuana available to patients.

“The will of the people really does change the world,” said Moriah Barnhart of Tampa, whose 5-year-old daughter suffers from brain cancer, and plans to use Trulieve’s products to help her child.

Barnhart is a member of Cannamoms, a group formed to advocate for marijuana as a medical treatment for severely ill youngsters.

Rivers and Trulieve’s chief operating officer, Jason Pernell, plan to open dispensaries in Tampa and Clearwater in the next 60 days. It’s unclear when a store will open in Palm Beach County or other locations in South Florida, although Trulieve can deliver statewide.

Introducing low-THC marijuana to Floridians was plagued by delays involving creating new state regulations, which then led to lengthy legal challenges involving those seeking licenses. Health officials are still dealing with an attempt by one rejected licensee to gain entry into the potentially lucrative new Florida industry.

The 2014 law was expanded this year to allow the dispensing organizations to also grow full-strength marijuana for patients who are terminally ill. Trulieve said that more potent strain will be available for shipping next month.

Patients seeking medical marijuana must get a recommendation from a doctor who has been certified by the state for having taken an approved continuing medical education course on the treatment.

Once a patient’s name is entered into a directory — also newly established by the Health Department — Trulieve will be authorized to ship the product.

So far, though, only a handful of Florida doctors are authorized to recommend marijuana. There are also only a few patients, since they must be under the care of that authorized doctor for 90 days before being able to fill a marijuana order.




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