Medical marijuana industry continues to boom in Tallahassee

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By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News
January 21, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Medical marijuana is a growing industry in the Capital City and around the Panhandle.

Local business owners and non-profit leaders learned more about the industry in Florida at WCTV's sponsored Lunch & Learn Event, hosted by the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce.

Members of the panel called the growth "fast and fun," with new dispensaries opening around Tallahassee, creating local jobs.

Employers also learned about new legislation that could dictate how they can regulate their employees.

"We always tell patients, make sure you understand your employer's policy before you decide to start medical cannabis, because it is an employee-specific decision that they make whether or not to allow medical cannabis in the workplace," said Turner Davis, the COO of Medical Marijuana Treatment Clinics of Florida. "Obviously the state allows state employees because it's a state program to have a medical cannabis card."

Although medical marijuana is legal in Florida, in some cases, if you test positive for THC or cannabis, even if you have a medical marijuana card, your company can terminate you.

A bill in the Florida House could provide employee protection, prohibiting employers from taking adverse action against employees who are qualified patients for medical marijuana.

"It's basically a right for the individual who carries their card and their choice," said Trulieve Chief Sales Officer Tim Morey.

A possible change in legislation reflects new attitudes by doctors.

"We really feel like we're really making a difference in a lot of lives, and we see a lot of good results," said Davis.

Davis is the COO of Medical Marijuana Treatment Clinics in Florida; his group specializes in certifying patients for medical marijuana use, taking the responsibility off the shoulders of primary care physicians.

"When we first started there was a lot of pushback from the medical community, and you know, it was just unknown, a fear about what cannabis would mean to their patients. But as we've qualified more and more patients over these past three years, we've really seen doctors in the general community start to accept medical cannabis more and more as a mainline of treatment," said Davis.

Davis said as the industry has evolved, his group has been seen as a positive partner to the medical community, helping patients with their
quality of life.

"It allows a lot of their patients to reduce the amount of opiates they're taking, to improve their symptoms without the side effects of a lot of medications they're taking," said Davis.

In addition to changing attitudes, some say the industry is changing the economy.

"We went from 21 stores to 43 stores, so we doubled in size in 2019," said Morey.

Trulieve in particular has seen major growth.

"I think you're going to continue to see, as more medical states come online, and then potential adult use as we move forward, I think you'll continue to see that growth base," said Morey.



 
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