Folks looking for medical cannabis can expect to see a new crop of Trulieve Cannabis outlets opening up around the state after getting the green light from the state Department of Health to open up to 49 dispensaries.
Trulieve and the DOH entered into a settlement agreement that excludes the 14 dispensaries Trulieve opened before a statutory cap was imposed by the Legislature based on the number of people registered to receive medical cannabis.
The agreement ends a lawsuit Trulieve filed against DOH, and comes two months after Circuit Judge Karen Gievers ruled the cap unconstitutional. The state will drop its appeal of Gievers’ ruling.
The medical cannabis company released the statement this morning that it has settled its lawsuit with DOH, which was filed in April 2018, a year after legislation was approved imposing the statutory cap after voters overwhelmingly approved the expansion of medical cannabis. The mutual settlement states that only dispensaries established after the cap will be counted for Trulieve.
Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers said it was not a victory for her company, but for all Florida patients.
“Our suit was first and foremost about patient access,” Rivers said in a news release. “Thanks to this resolution, we will have the ability to open stores in locations where patients live, which will allow us to fulfill our goal of reaching every patient as efficiently, safely, and consistently as possible, including and especially those in more rural areas.”
Current law sets the number of dispensaries each medical cannabis treatment center can open by the number of patients on the medical cannabis registry. The cap was initially set at 25 but increased with the growth of patients on the registry. The cap is in effect until April 2020.
The cap went to 35 last week when the number of actively certified patients went over 200,000.
“The evidence clearly and conclusively establishes beyond any doubt that conveniently located medical cannabis dispensaries (as opposed to vehicle delivery, the only allowed alternative means of dispensing) promote authorized users’ improved access to medical cannabis products and related information and services, at lower cost, and promote public safety (the stated goals for regulation in the amendment),” Gievers wrote in February.
Trulieve currently has 27 dispensaries from Miami to Pensacola. It argued that it would have reached the 30-dispensary cap by the end of this year if it had to include the 14 dispensaries opened before the cap was put in place. Under the agreement with DOH, Trulieve can open up to 44 dispensaries.