The nation's largest cannabis retailer opens 100th Florida location in Tallahassee
It's been a big year for the North-Florida-based medical marijuana company, Trulieve. Earlier this month, it became the nation's largest cannabis operator. Now, it's opened its 100th Florida store—and went back its roots for the occasion. WFSU spoke with Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers about navigating a still-growing industry amid a pandemic.
Trulieve opened its first dispensary in Tallahassee about five years ago. Rivers said it was essential to set up shop in Florida's capital city.
"One of the things that I think really set us apart from the very beginning is our focus not only on the major metropolitan areas but also on areas that aren't necessarily the largest population centers in the state," Rivers said.
Trulieve's headquarters are in Gadsden County, and Rivers said it employs about 2,000 people in that area.
"We're raising families in the Big Bend area, and also, from a strategic perspective, it was important for us because certainly as additional markets open up in the southeast having core operations in the panhandle, we think is a logistical advantage for us," Rivers said.
Rivers said Trulieve has 150 locations nationwide. She said in Florida, there are 2,000 to 3,000 more people per week coming into their dispensaries. Rivers believes the increase is due to a pandemic emergency order that allowed existing patients under the state's medical-marijuana program to get recertified for the program via telehealth. That order ended in June of this year. She's hoping the state continues this process and expands what conditions can qualify someone to use medical marijuana.
"In other markets, we've seen a specific condition that will allow for a physician to recommend medical marijuana as an opioid replacement. And that certainly has had a dramatic impact on folks being able to transition off of opioids that can have severe and negative side effects, so I think that's the main one," Rivers said.
Rivers said she'd also like the state to have workplace protections for people who use medical marijuana.