Things are looking up for the cannabis industry in Florida. More dispensaries are opening across the state. And the ban on smokable marijuana was recently ruled unconstitutional after everyone — from outspoken attorney John Morgan to Sen. Bill Nelson — called for the state to lift the ban. It seems the tide might finally be turning in favor of patients.
Now comes a new development: You'll soon be able to get medical marijuana from the safety of your car. A drive-thru dispensary is coming to Florida. Curaleaf, one of the main marijuana providers in the state, with five locations around South Florida, just announced it will open a dispensary in Palm Harbor, about 40 minutes north of St. Petersburg, that will offer the first drive-thru service in the state.
According to the Florida Office of Medical Marijuana Use's latest update, 120,351 patients are registered in the state's Medical Marijuana Use Registry, and 43 dispensaries operate across the state. The new Curaleaf location, which will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its grand opening Tuesday, June 19, is poised to be number 44.
Many of those patients suffer from disabilities and degenerative diseases that make it difficult to walk into a dispensary to buy the cannabis products that treat their ailments. Curaleaf's secure drive-thru could be a solution.
"This is really about providing easy access for patients that might have a physical challenge or impairment," explains Michelle Terrell, Curaleaf's director of marketing and communications. "You have a lot of patients that have a difficult time getting out of their car, so this just enables us to offer them that type of a service so that they are better treated and taken care of. It’s all about the patients for us.
And though a number of Florida's dispensaries, including Curaleaf, already offer same-day or next-day delivery, some patients can't wait for deliveries to alleviate symptoms they're struggling with in the moment.
"A lot of people love to come into the dispensary and experience it, but a lot of people are in a hurry — they’d just like to drive through and get it," Terrell says. "And maybe some don’t want to wait until the next day for delivery, so that’s another reason why we offer this option."
The service will be available to current Curaleaf customers only. New patients must schedule a consultation with the staff inside before using the drive-thru.
Though this feature is limited to the new Palm Harbor location, more dispensaries around the Sunshine State will probably implement the same strategy for the convenience of their customers. According to Terrell, there are already plans for more drive-thru dispensaries. (The first ones opened last year in Las Vegas and Colorado.)
"If I could open a drive-thru at every dispensary, I would do it," Terrell says.
As the budding market continues to grow, Floridians may well begin to find it much easier to get the weed they need.