A convenience store chain could become a player in the medical marijuana industry in Florida with its partnership with a dispensary wanting to increase consumer access to the product.
Green Thumb, a Chicago-based cannabis consumer packaged goods company, is opening 10 trial dispensaries at Circle K locations across the state next year. The company will lease space at Circle K’s properties for shops that will be known as “RISE Express.”
The dispensaries will have a separate entrance and cannot be entered from inside the Circle K. The relationship will be similar, for example, to Publix Liquor stores and Publix markets.
But as of Thursday, neither Green Thumb nor Circle K has said which stores will get the 10 RISE Express locations.
Medical Marijuana on the Treasure Coast:Compspannies included the region espanrly in their growth
Rising from the ashes:After devspanstspanting fire, Hspandes Motorsports hspans new fspancility in Port St. Lucie
About a dozen of Circle K’s 700 locations in Florida are in Martin and St. Lucie counties. Indian River County has none.
“The opening of RISE Express stores at Circle K locations is a game-changer,” said Green Thumb Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ben Kovler in a press release. “The new RISE Express model is a huge step forward in making it easier and more efficient for patients to purchase high-quality cannabis as part of their everyday routine when stopping by their local convenience store.”
A spokesman for the Florida Department of Health issued a statement Thursday that the partnership is a proposal that has not been finalized.
“This project has not been approved by the state,” state officials said. “Florida has never approved a medical marijuana treatment center to operate out of a gas station.”
Friday, a Green Thumb spokesperson reiterated the partnership would not have the sales happening inside the gas stations.
“As with all RISE dispensary locations in Florida, the opening of RISE Express stores remains subject to regulatory approval, and sales will be exclusively to Florida patients with a valid medical marijuana identification card,” the company said.
The Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, also known as Amendment 2, was approved by more than 70 percent of voters in November 2016. Dispensaries, which began opening a few years later, are the only places in Florida allowed to sell the product.
A few dozen shops operate across the Treasure Coast by companies such as Trulieve, Sunnyside, Curaleaf and MUV. Green Thumb has shops in several parts of Florida, but none on the Treasure Coast.
Several other states since then have approved recreational use, leaving Florida as the largest state for medical use only of marijuana.
According to the Florida Department of Health, over 700,000 Floridians are currently registered active cardholders in the state’s medical marijuana program.