Cultivation Site Manager
Trulieve offers a range of products in capsule, liquid or inhaler form. The products are manufactured in a laboratory that is part of the company's indoor grow house at a plant nursery in nearby Quincy. "It's like walking into NASA," said Dr. Ken Brummel-Smith, a Tallahassee gerontologist serving as medical director for Trulieve. For patients and their families, Tuesday's open house at Trulieve was a day they sometimes feared would never come. The company only was cleared last week by the state's Health Department to produce and distribute products to patients - a year-and-a-half past the state's original Jan. 1, 2015 start date for making the strain of medical marijuana available to patients suffering from cancer or severe seizures. The use of marijuana for medical purposes now is legal in 25 states, and it can be sold for recreational use in another four, Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon. In Washington, D.C., it's also legal to possess and cultivate cannabis but retail sales are banned. Florida voters will decide in November whether to allow full-strength marijuana as medical treatment for a host of additional illnesses. A similar proposal narrowly failed with voters two years ago. "The will of the people really does change the world," said Moriah Barnhart of Tampa, whose 5-year-old daughter suffers from brain cancer, and plans to use Trulieve's products to help her child. Barnhart is a member of Cannamoms, a group formed to advocate for marijuana as a medical treatment for severely ill youngsters. Rivers and Trulieve's chief operating officer, Jason Pernell, plan to open dispensaries in Tampa and Clearwater in the next 60 days. It's unclear when a store will open in Palm Beach County or other locations in South Florida, although Trulieve can deliver statewide. Introducing low-THC marijuana to Floridians was plagued by delays involving creating new state regulations, which then led to lengthy legal challenges involving those seeking licenses. Health officials are still dealing with an attempt by one rejected licensee to gain entry into the potentially lucrative new Florida industry. The 2014 law was expanded this year to allow the dispensing organizations to also grow full-strength marijuana for patients who are terminally ill. Trulieve said that more potent strain will be available for shipping next month. Patients seeking medical marijuana must get a recommendation from a doctor who has been certified by the state for having taken an approved continuing medical education course on the treatment. Once a patient's name is entered into a directory - also newly established by the Health Department - Trulieve will be authorized to ship the product. So far, though, only a handful of Florida doctors are authorized to recommend marijuana. There are also currently only a few patients, since they must be under the care of that authorized doctor for 90 days before being able to fill a marijuana order.