Jacksonville's 1st medical marijuana dispensary opens

Trulieve opens its doors on Beach Boulevard

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Duval County's first medical marijuana dispensary opened Wednesday on Jacksonville's Southside.

Some of the first customers in Jacksonville were waiting for the doors to open Wednesday morning and they said that it is a long time coming.

Byron Watson was out early this morning. He had his paperwork in order and his card where he was approved for medical marijuana. This will be the first time he's tried it.

"I'm hoping it's going to be a godsend really for me because I've had chronic G.I. pain for the past five years," Watson said. 

The items for sale  are pills and vapors. Smokeable marijuana is not allowed, but there's a lawsuit pending concerning that.

You won’t find buds or other parts of  the marijuana plant for sale here.... There are only pills, oils and vapors.  Smoking marijuana is still illegal though there is a lawsuit trying to change that.  Right now patients must see a doctor approved by the state and then placed in a state registry and given an ID card ..
The opening went smoothly. Donovan Carr, the local head of the National Organization for the reform of Marijuana laws expects more 

"I think we will see a lot more," Carr said. "I think it's more people are educated and people understand the product in the history of the product I think that overtime if we follow other states it will be a great asset for Florida itself."

Information on physicians and what you need before you can purchase the products can be found at trulieve.com.   

For some, it's not coming soon enough. 

While anyone is allowed to come into the store on Beach Boulevard, just east of University Boulevard South, it will take an order from a doctor to buy pot there. 

It won't be the kind of leafy marijuana that many think of, like the kind that can be smoked. The store, which is located in a busy part of town, will sell pills and vapors. 

More than seven months after Floridians overwhelmingly backed the broad legalization of medical marijuana, Gov. Rick Scott on June 23 signed a bill aimed at carrying out the voters' wishes.

Lawmakers passed the bill, Senate Bill 8-A, during a special session this month after struggling to reach agreement on an implementation plan for the medical marijuana constitutional amendment, which 71 percent of voters approved in November.

The constitutional amendment gives doctors the authority to order marijuana for potentially hundreds of thousands of patients who suffer from debilitating conditions. It also resolves issues such as how many companies will receive marijuana licenses and how many retail outlets they can operate.

Now that the law has been expanded in Florida, more storefronts have many opening around the state. The company Trulieve is the first to do so in Jacksonville, and will open the doors on Wednesday.

On the eve of the dispensary's opening, News4Jax asked people who live in the area what they think about their new neighbors.

"I think it's just another medical facility in this area that is going to be putting out prescription drugs. It's not open to just anyone to get whatever they want," Robert Battistic said. "I don't think it's going to harm our neighborhood here."

Trulieve already has seven other storefronts open throughout the state, including a store in Tallahassee. It's also the first company in Florida to actually grow and process medical marijuana.

The company's CEO, Kim Rivers, released the following statement Tuesday:

"We have many patients in the greater Jacksonville area, so we're excited to open our first dispensary in this corner of the state," Rivers said. "Continuing to open dispensary locations ensures faster delivery times and increases patient access, which has always been our mission."

That's what area residents believe is important.

"I applied for it myself," Mary Carter said. "I do think they should put one here."

Other businesses near Trulieve's Jacksonville dispensary said they want to wait to see what happens before commenting on the opening.

News4Jax on Tuesday also learned another company may be opening its doors soon in Jacksonville. News4Jax found the location for a Knox cannabis dispensary on San Jose Boulevard in Mandarin, but the doors were locked, even though the company's website says they are operating in Jacksonville.

Neighboring businesses said they were told that the dispensary would be opening soon. 


The News Service of Florida contributed to this report. 

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