In November 2014, when it came time to vote on Amendment 2 to give legal cannabis the green thumbs up, Florida tried to pass but fumbled the ball on the 2-yard line, and the measure failed by a margin of just two percent. While an impressive 58 percent majority of voters said yes, a 60 percent supermajority was needed for passage. You could practically hear the simultaneous forehead slaps from Key West to Tallahassee as voters saw their goal slip just out of reach.
Afterward, some would say, “Well, you know, we did make it pretty close.” We appreciate the optimism, but that’s about as helpful as telling a point guard who rattled the rock off the rim in double overtime of the finals, “It didn’t go in, but at least you hit the hoop!” Sorry, but close doesn’t close the deal. Besides, if you were anywhere near social media in the weeks to follow, you probably noticed the outrage directed toward that accursed two percent. Two percent. (Say it in the Ghost-of-Christmas-Past voice, and you can feel the sentiment.)
But that’s not where this story ends. In fact, as you read this, there are more exciting developments in the world of cannabis happening all over the state, and the country. On July 19, 2016, Florida’s health department gave the go-ahead for the very first medical cannabis dispensary to begin statewide delivery. A week later, it happened, and history was made. And Floridians’ lives are well on their way to being changed for the better, thanks to the numerous benefits of the botanical.
Welcome to the Greenshine State
A dispensary in Tallahassee, owned and operated by a company called Trulieve, is now up and running. They offer a wide variety of products for patients to choose from, including oils, tinctures, capsules, and vaporizers. This is a huge win in the fight to legalize cannabis and shouldn’t be taken lightly, even if it is just one dispensary. Trulieve is undoubtedly just the first of many, the “OG” of Florida medical cannabis dispensaries.
It takes trailblazers to create a path for others to follow, as the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club did back in 1992 for medical cannabis legalization. According to 7 News Miami, “Dispensaries are expected to be in 18 cities [in Florida] by the time all organizations are up and running.” There are currently six approved organizations in the state, and Trulieve is spearheading the movement hand in hand with Hackney Nursery.
Right to try: a human right
By now almost everyone has heard about the amazing health benefits that cannabis has to offer. The tricky part is getting the lawyers and doctors on board the green train (professionally, that is—not referring to their after-hours pursuits) to ensure that people have access to this amazing medication affordably and legally. At Trulieve, patients suffering from epilepsy, cancer, chronic muscle spasms, or chronic seizures have the green light to receive treatment, as long as their name is in the state registry with one of the 15 currently registered cannabis physicians in Florida.
One major part of the current state law is that only products containing low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may be sold through the dispensaries. There is one exception to that rule, however. “Right to Try” patients, those facing terminal illness with one year or less of life expectancy, will now finally have access to maximum-strength, full-spectrum cannabis to ease their suffering and help make their remaining days more comfortable.
All cannabinoids are not created equal
Though THC does work to enhance the medicinal value of CBD (that’s the entourage effect), low THC doesn’t necessarily mean that patients will receive less therapeutic benefit from their medical herb. It means that the molecule responsible for euphoric psychoactivity is greatly reduced. A lot of the medical magic in cannabis comes from another of the 110+ known cannabinoids: cannabidiol (CBD).
This “miracle molecule” is effective across an astonishing range of medical conditions, from cancer and severe epilepsy to auto-immune disorders and schizophrenia. According to Leaf Science, it also combats nausea, anxiety, depression, and inflammatory and neurodegenerative disorders—and the list goes on and on. Change is really on the horizon for Floridians seeking alternative health options.
Move over, tequila—time for a cannabis sunrise
A new day is dawning in America. The cool thing about the cannabis freedom fight is that it is living and breathing, just as much as the people campaigning, voting, investing, growing, and innovating. As you read this, there could already be new exciting developments on Florida’s cannabis frontier and beyond. The best part for Trulieve is that they will always be remembered as the very first dispensary to serve the people of the Sunshine State, to help change the lives of those in need of compassionate care. That is a historical achievement of the highest order and a permanent proud legacy.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Garyn Angel is an inventor, award-winning financial consultant, and CEO of MagicalButter.com. His company makes the Botanical Extractor, the appliance he invented for infusing cannabis into foods and lotions. Angel is committed to cannabis law reform and was named to the CNBC NEXT List of visionary global business leaders for his work on legal marijuana. He is also founder of the Cheers to Goodness Foundation, a charity that helps “medical refugees”—mainly veterans and children—who need cannabis therapy when traditional treatment options have failed. Angel’s charity helps families relocate to states where cannabis medicine is legally accessible.