A Central Florida marijuana dispensary made its first delivery to a Jacksonville patient Tuesday — the same day a constitutional amendment goes into effect that will make more types of medical cannabis available to Floridians.
Knox Medical is one of a handful of Florida dispensaries that have been allowed to open under a 2014 law.
Navy veteran Gabriel George used his one good hand and mouth to rip open the plastic packaging of his recently delivered medical marijuana treatment.
“They checked my ID and all that to make sure it was me,” he said.
Inside is a small bottle of tincture liquid that’s administered using a couple drops under the tongue.
The 30-year-old medically retired from the Navy in 2009 after a motorcycle accident left him partially paralyzed, suffering nerve damage and spasms. His right arm hangs loosely at his side.
“I broke my (back), six ribs, my collar bone, scapula, both lungs collapsed which ripped the nerves my spinal cord which paralyzed my right arm,” he said. “I have an 8year-old daughter that is my motivator and I’m here.”
George’s neurologist suggested non-euphoric marijuana could help with the side effects of his cocktail of pharmaceutical medicines. He turned to anesthesiologist Terrell Newton, one of Florida’s roughly 200 licensed marijuana prescribers.
“Knox is one of the recently certified and licensed dispensaries, of which there’s going to be a total of six in Florida. This is their first delivery into the Jacksonville area,” he said.
The state awarded Knox the license for Central Florida, and it was finally given the go-ahead in December to sell its product after an extended court battle. Growers challenged the state as it made rules governing who can grow and sell non-smoked, non-high-inducing marijuana, starting in 2014.
The state has decided on a maximum of six facilities, four including Knox are already doing business, while two more are awaiting licenses.
While more than 70 percent of voters last year approved constitutional Amendment 2, which increases the number of conditions approved for marijuana treatment in Florida and legalizes regular strains of the product, the legislature has to decide on how to implement it.
Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Orange Park, told WJCT in November he foresees a smoother implementation of the constitutional expansion. He’s the sponsor of 2014’s “Charlotte’s Web” law, which legalized non-euphoric strains of marijuana for treatment of seizures, spasms and a small list of other chronic conditions.
“We are not getting caught flat-footed. There is infrastructure already in place. There is a regulatory system already in place to handle the new patients that are going to come on board with the passage of Amendment 2,” he said.
State lawmakers still have six months to come up with a new regulatory framework and nine months to fully implement the expansion.
Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at (904) 358 6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk.