A North Florida man who’s struggled with fibromyalgia for years, on Thursday became the state’s first patient to legally purchase whole-flower cannabis for smoking, just days after Governor Ron DeSantis signed into a law a measure repealing a prohibition against smokable medical marijuana.
Trulieve, the state’s largest medical marijuana operator, also became the first of Florida’s 14 medical marijuana operators to sell whole flower products for use in joints, pipes or bongs.
At a Trulieve store in Tallahassee, Doug Dixon, a 59-year-old patient, purchased the whole flower he hailed as a safer and healthier alternative to prescription drugs to treat the pain he suffers from fibromyalgia. Dixon, a Crawfordville construction worker who was already purchasing other cannabis products at Trulieve, says he plans to smoke the whole flower in joints. He was confident the medicine would eventually be legalized.
“I knew one day it would be," he says. "I didn’t know if I would ever see it in my time. But, it is good to see it. It is good to have the alternative. These pharmaceuticals are killing people. I have lost so many family members.”
Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers, whose Quincy-based company sells more than 60 percent of the medical marijuana purchased by the state’s nearly 200 thousand patients, says the sale of whole-flower cannabis will make medical marijuana affordable for many Floridians who are now financially shut out of the treatment.
“We do expect that there will be an increase in the Florida market," she says. "I don’t know that we’ll see as much of a shift of current patients, as we will patients who have not been medical patients up to this point, entering the market because they now see a product that they are attracted to and that works for them.”
In other states where medical marijuana has been legalized, smokable products comprise between 40 and 60 percent of sales, according to Rivers.
Although Trulieve was the first to receive approval from the state Department of Health to sell whole flower, other medical marijuana operators are racing to get authorization so they, too, can begin selling smokable cannabis.