Tallahassee medical marijuana dispensary opens

The first patient to receive medical cannabis in store at Trulieve in Tallahassee. July 26, 2016.
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By: Mariel Carbone
July 26, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV)-- Sixty dollars and a hopeful patient.

“I thank you for the hope of getting better,” said Dallas Nagy.

Tuesday, Nagy became the first person to receive medical marijuana in store at Trulieve, after purchasing Low-THC in the form of gel capsules. The Tallahassee shop is the first medical cannabis dispensary to open in the state of Florida.

Trulieve’s CEO Kim Rivers called it a “historic day” for Florida and the future of medical cannabis.

Currently, the store only stocks Low-THC products, which come in four forms: the gel capsule, two forms of oil and a vapor. In August, it’ll also stock High-THC.

“It’s very exciting, it’s very emotional,” said Rosalyn Deckerhoff, whose 20-year-old son Barrett suffers from epilepsy. She hopes he can soon receive the medication too.

But it’s not that easy. Qualified patients must have a 90 day relationship with a qualified doctor. And right now, there’s not many.

To qualify as a patient, you must be terminally ill, suffer or show signs of cancer or a chronic illness that causes seizures or muscle spasms. For a doctor to be able to order the drug, they must complete an eight hour course, take an exam and register with the state.

Currently, Barrett is about one month into this three month time period. And, Rosalyn is hopeful for the future.

“It’s awful of course. Seizures are terrible. It’s a very horrible, utterly dangerous disease,” she said. "So anything that might reduce his seizures and just give him a better quality of life, we want.”

For others in the store, Tuesday’s sale means more than just a potential new drug.

“We’re able to relinquish the title of ‘criminal’ that we were forced to embrace in order to save our children’s live,” said Moriah Barnhart, who co-founded the advocacy group 'Cannamoms.' Her child suffers from brain cancer, and she says her daughter is one of the youngest patients in the state taking medical marijuana.

Supporters hope future legislation can expand who can receive it, and what illnesses qualify.

“For all patients, of all ailments and all ages,” said Barnhart.

But for now, advocates and patients celebrate, one purchase at a time.

By: Mariel Carbone
July 25, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV)-- The first medical marijuana dispensary in the state of Florida officially opens its doors Tuesday.

Trulieve, located on Capital Circle Southeast, held a soft opening Monday. The Tallahassee store begins selling Low-THC cannabis this week, and will follow with High-THC cannabis in August.

In order to qualify for medical cannabis, patients must suffer from or show signs of cancer, or a chronic illness causing seizures or muscle spasms. Or, they must be terminally ill.

To recommend or order the drug for a patient, doctors must have a three month history with the patient, plus take an eight hour course followed by an exam. During this course, they learn about all known evidence about the use of medical cannabis, including situations our laws don’t even allow yet. Doctors also learn the difference between federal and state law.

Dr. Ken Brummel-Smith, medical director for Trulieve, is one of three doctors in Tallahassee who have completed the course. He said one of the biggest things emphasized during the course is the importance of starting low and going slow when prescribing medical cannabis.

“A person who is using it, the THC kind, will titrate, or take small, very small doses. And then wait for a little bit of time and see how it's affecting them. And then take another dose in 15, or 20 minutes later to see how it's affecting them. And they themselves ultimately control the right dosage,” said Brummel-Smith

Although he has completed the course, Brummel-Smith does not qualify to actually order medical marijuana for a patient because state law says dispensary medical directors are not allowed to prescribe.

Still, not all doctors are for the use of medical marijuana. Brummel-Smith said there is a lack of research done into its use and effects because research on the drug was illegal prior to the legalization of medical marijuana. And, although there is a lot of research done in other countries, including Israel, the research is not as extensive as many doctors would like.

What’s really at the heart of the matter is the difference between state and federal law. Many worry this is all just a way to get around federal law, and that the drug will end up in the hands of recreational pot uses. But, others argue this can, and does, happen with other drugs and view this situation as no different than that of any other drug.

The US Attorney General said she won’t prosecute doctors who recommend medical marijuana if their state has laws on it. Still, it’s technically illegal to “prescribe it.” So states like Florida have built a system around that.

"Physicians order or approve medical marijuana. They’re not prescribing it because they don’t write it on a prescription,” said Brummel-Smith. “You have to say that the patient is eligible and meets all the necessary criteria, and then you have to register that patient with the state registry in the Office of Compassionate Use.”

Doctors must also register with the office, pending a completion of the continuing education course. A full list of doctors in the state of Florida who have done so, can be found at www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/office-of-compassionate-use/.

By: Mariel Carbone
July 21, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- From nursery, to storefront. Patients can purchase their prescription for medical cannabis in Tallahassee starting Tuesday.

“It’s exciting. We have so many elderly people, with so many issues. A lot of veterans, people come to retire here that have issues,” said Donia Ward, an FSU student from Tampa.

"It's a natural based way to help cure or minimize the effects of cancer on a body,” said Melissa Moses, of Tallahassee.

Trulieve is one of the six dispensaries approved by the state to sell medical marijuana in Florida. It’s the first to actually open its doors.

Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers says it’s been a long time coming.

"We have just felt like it's really important. These patients have been waiting for medicine a long time,” said Rivers. “The sooner we felt we could get it into their hands, we feel it's the right thing to do."

Starting Tuesday, the store will begin filling prescription for low THC doses. Patients can receive it in four different forms, including a gel capsule, two types of oils – one taken through a syringe, the other using a dropper-- and a vapor. In August, the store will stock high doses of THC.

For some, it’s a welcomed medical advancement.

"I think it'll be a good thing for people that aren't necessarily trying to get into some of these really heavy pharmaceuticals, but at the same time, something that'll help with the pain and at least get their mind of it,” said Chase Rolling, of Tallahassee.

To prescribe medical cannabis, doctors must follow strict protocols. First, they must complete the Low THC Cannabis Continuing Medical Education course. That’s sponsored by the Florida Medical Association and the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association. It’s a two-hour course, plus an exam. Then, they must be added to a physician registry by the Office of Compassionate Use.

In order to physically receive a prescription, a patient must meet specific qualifications. They must either suffer from or show signs of cancer, a chronic illness that causes seizures or muscle spasms, or a terminal illness.

If a patient qualifies, they will be assigned an identification number and added to a patient registry through the state.

"When you come in, the first question that will be asked is to verify you're in the patient registry,” said Rivers. “So that unique identifier that is issued by the Department of Health and the Office of Compassionate Use. Eventually there will be cards that'll be issued. You'll have to be verified before you're allowed into the secure area where we'll be offering products."

Even with these processes, we spoke to plenty of people off camera who have reservations. They worry the shop will also attract those looking for recreational drug use.

But, Rivers said she hopes people change their minds once they actually see the store.

"We're not selling glass or rolling papers or anything of that nature,” she said. “This is a really highly regulated specific medicine."

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
July 20, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A Tallahassee medical marijuana dispensary is the first in the state of Florida to receive authorization from the Florida Department of Health.

Trulieve dispensary says it will open next week and begin sales, becoming the first dispensary in the state of Florida to open its doors.

The company has a press conference scheduled for its location at 800 Capital Circle SE next Tuesday at 2 p.m.

“We are happy to announce that we have passed all inspections — from growing and processing to dispensing — and are the very first medical cannabis provider in the state to receive these formal authorizations. And we are most excited to get this much anticipated medicine to the patients of Florida,” said Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers.

Trulieve will have low-THC cannabis available for statewide delivery immediately, the company says. Medical marijuana with higher levels of THC is expected to be available in August.

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