Florida’s Medical Marijuana Registry Hits 100,000

By Jeff Ostrowski
The Palm Beach Post, Fla.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Florida voters legalized medical marijuana in a landslide in November 2016, and the new industry has ramped up quickly.

The Palm Beach Post, Fla.

In a sign that Floridians are embracing the state’s freshly minted medical marijuana program, the state’s official cannabis registry has topped 100,000 patients.

The Florida Department of Health counted 100,576 patients as of Friday, and about 2,500 people join the list each week.

“Hitting 100,000 patients in Florida really shows us that people are being helped by medical marijuana,” said Rebecca Allison, director of marketing and product development for Surterra Wellness, a Tampa-based grower and retailer of cannabis.

The quick growth comes despite regulatory obstacles such as state delays in processing patient cards. That challenge seems to have eased in recent months, said Lindsay Jones, chief executive of Curaleaf, a Miami-based pot producer.

“It feels like the pace is increasing,” Jones said.

In another gripe, patients say Florida’s relatively restrictive regulatory regime limits the supply of products available for sale.

Karen Seeb Goldstein, executive director of NORML of Florida and a medical marijuana patient, said the exploding patient count means Florida’s seven pot providers can’t keep up with demand. She said dispensaries often are plagued by shortages of products.

“This is a huge state. The demand is outstripping the supply,” Goldstein said. “Because we have so few growers, it’s like going to a restaurant and them saying, ‘We have turkey. Do you want roast turkey or fried turkey?'”

Curaleaf’s Jones said his company has remedied one supply problem. Hurricane Irma struck just a glancing blow to Curaleaf’s cultivation facility in southwestern Miami-Dade County, but Curaleaf lost a significant chunk of the plants from which it extracts cannabidiol, or CBD.

“It’s not like Hurricane Irma destroyed the facility. It didn’t. It was minor damage,” Jones said. “But a little damage at a cultivation center can have a profound impact.”

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