Medical Marijuana Access in Florida Limited, For Now

Medical marijuana dispensaries have been a common sight in L.A. for years – more than two decades, to be exact. So it’s tough to remember that in many parts of the country, these facilities are still having to wade gingerly into their new markets, even as the public has shown overwhelming support for them at the polls.bud

One example is Florida.

Recently, media in The Sunshine State have been exploring the way in which marijuana businesses are carefully entering the market after the approval of Amendment 2, which took effect this month. As reported by one outlet, one 2,000-square-foot storefront in Tampa does not, the reporter noted, “evoke images of the seedy bong-filled pot shops of popular imagination.” Again, we have to remember that it’s still “imagination” to those who haven’t lived in or traveled to a state where this substance has been widely available for years. The writer describes a clean, spacious dispensary with a brightly-lit showroom and materials to help educate buyers on the drug’s merits. One customer, there to purchase products for her son with epilepsy, comments to the writer that in truth, she “didn’t know what to expect,” but was pleasantly surprised. 

That’s the kind of impression dispensary owners are hoping to have as this industry expands. That kind of a reputation is what’s going to help sway those communities that early on jumped on the bandwagon to ban marijuana dispensaries opening up in their own neighborhoods. For example, since Amendment 2 passed in Florida, 60 Florida communities have voted to ban dispensaries from opening there, at least temporarily. Comments made by local leaders generally involve concern about the potential criminal element a marijuana dispensary may attract.

While there are some legitimate concerns, particularly as long as banking institutions continue to turn down contracts with these firms, forcing them to operate almost exclusively in cash, the reality is that dispensaries are by-and-large as safe and above-board as any other business. Still, there is a greater burden placed on newly-opened facilities in these communities to show what they are, what they aren’t and how they can help community. Aside from providing patients with safe, secure access to a drug with numerous medically beneficial properties, the other major benefit is the revenue generation. Some local governments could be looking at a substantial boost in tax revenue, which can help bolster public safety, education, infrastructure and more.

Dispensaries need to do their part to invest in creating a space where patients who are sick and vulnerable feel comfortable – and not as if they are doing something of which they should feel ashamed or secretive about.

The Tampa-area dispensary described by The News-Press reporter is a commercial district just outside of the University of South Florida, in a complex that is also home to a pizza shop, an insurance agency and a property management firm. Supervising the store was a registered nurse, who explained the various THC treatments used for conditions like cancer, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.

As it now stands, there are approximately 1,800 people in Florida who are in line to start receiving medical marijuana and 388 doctors who are allowed to recommend it for them.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:

Dispelling fears: Dispensaries aim to ‘normalize’ Florida medical marijuana, Jan. 16, 2017, By Frank Gluck, The News-Press

More Blog Entries:

Study: Marijuana Reduces In-Hospital Mortality Risk, Jan. 10, 2017, L.A. Marijuana Lawyer Blog