Crossing a new threshold in the U.S., medical marijuana users who are registered to consume weed in Florida will be able to pick some up at Circle K convenience stores as easily as picking up beer, a can of soda or gas.
Chicago-based Green Thumb Industries, a multi-state marijuana cultivator, wholesale and retailer, announced plans to install about 10 of its RISE Express pot dispensaries at Florida Circle Ks through leasing arrangements with the retailer. Circle K has 600 locations in Florida. Green Thumb plans to launch its test-and-learn phase of the rollout in 2023, the company said in a Nov. 2 press release of its third-quarter results.
From 2001 to 2010, 88 percent of arrests in the U.S. were for simply having marijuana, according to the ACLU. Nationwide, the arrest data revealed a consistent trend: Despite roughly equal usage rates, Black people were 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana.
Since voters approved a ballot measure in 2016 legalizing marijuana for medical use in Florida, the number of dispensaries in the state has risen close to 500, Sun Sentinel reported. Patients who qualify for medicinal use more than doubled from 299,044 to 761,973 since January 2020, according to data from the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use.
Qualified users in Florida are expected to exceed 1 million by 2024, and revenue to increase from $1.3 billion to $2.5 billion a year by 2025.
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Florida is one of three states ripe for industry expansion and investment, Green Thumb said in its second-quarter earnings call with investors. The other states include New York and Virginia, which legalized recreational weed in 2021. Along with Minnesota, the four states have cannabis markets that are “highly immature and underdeveloped” and are in the “early part of the (industry) growth curve,” Green Thumb founder and CEO Ben Kovler told investors in July, according to the Broward and Plam Beach county-based Sun Sentinel.
Shoppers at Circle K will be able to go through a separate entrance to buy branded cannabis products including RYTHM premium flower, Dogwalkers pre-rolls, Incredibles gummies and &Shine vapes, according to a press release.
If approved and passed, a new amendment on the 2024 presidential election ballot could allow anyone older than 21 to buy and consume cannabis for recreation in Florida.
Florida voters overwhelmingly support recreational marijuana, said Steve Vancore, who represents the political action committee Smart & Safe Florida, formed to get the amendment across the finish line.
A poll released in February by the University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab found that 76 percent of respondents support allowing people to possess small amounts of cannabis, while 20 percent oppose it. More than 70 percent “is everyone,” Vancore said. “We don’t see any single demographic group with support below 50 percent.”