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Trulieve, the first medical marijuana treatment center in Miami, is set to open its second dispensary, in Dadeland, August 21.EXPAND
Trulieve, the first medical marijuana treatment center in Miami, is set to open its second dispensary, in Dadeland, August 21.
Courtesy of Trulieve

Miami-Dade's Fifth Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opening in Dadeland

Medical pot is on the rise in Florida. Since voters legalized medical marijuana and low-THC cannabis in the November 2016 general election, Florida has added 144,557 patients to the Office of Medical Marijuana Use's user registry, according to the Department of Health’s latest update. For a state with a population of 21 million, about one in 145 Floridians can legally use medical weed.

So it's no shock that Miami-Dade is set to get its fifth dispensary next week. Trulieve, which already operates a dispensary near Miami International Airport, will debut a medical marijuana treatment center in Dadeland next Tuesday. The Tallahassee-based company has 15 other locations across the state.

The firm says it's opening a new location for a simple reason: There are many more medical marijuana patients than there are dispensaries.

"We have one location here [in Miami], and it’s very overwhelmed and crowded with patients," says Victoria Walker, Trulieve's director of community relations. Depending upon the time of the month, Trulieve's original location, at 4020 NW 26th St., serves upward of 100 patients in a single day.

The new location, at 9600 SW 77th Ave., will offer marijuana-based treatment to patients across South Miami-Dade who are predominantly aged 50 and over, Walker says.

Vaporizers are the top sellers at Trulieve.EXPAND
Vaporizers are the top sellers at Trulieve.
Courtesy of Trulieve

Trulieve sells 70 to 80 products. Vaporizers and other inhalers are the top sellers, followed by oils and tinctures, which are drops administered on the tongue or mixed into food. Unlike locations in many other states, dispensaries in Florida aren't allowed to carry other companies' products; instead, they must grow, process, and package everything they sell themselves.

Because insurance providers don't cover medical marijuana treatment — and medical pot is still illegal under federal law — it's an all-cash business, which, according to Walker, can be a deterrent for some prospective patients. For Trulieve, the average patient cost per visit is $150, with patients visiting an average of once a month. To make the transaction easier, the company offers CanPay, a mobile payment app similar to Venmo.

There are 1,596 qualified ordering physicians writing prescriptions and nearly 50 dispensaries operating in Florida. In addition to the two Trulieve facilities, Miami-Dade County has three other dispensaries: two operated by Curaleaf (at 19000 SW 192nd St. on the edge of the Redland and 9002 S. Dadeland Blvd. in Kendall) and a Miami Beach dispensary run by Surterra Wellness.

The Office of Medical Marijuana Use receives 2,000 to 3,000 new applications each week, so Miami will likely see more dispensaries as the state approves them. Critics have assailed Florida for severely curtailing the number of businesses with access to the medical marijuana market.

Walker says Truelieve is backing efforts to make access easier, including the work of Regulate Florida, which is pushing for a referendum on recreational marijuana in Florida.

"The growth will really just be dependent on the rules and regulations," she says.

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