By Nick Blank Staff Writer
ORANGE PARK – The sale of medical marijuana in Florida was unthinkable five years ago in Florida.
But last week customers were able to buy vape cartridges, CBD and smokable pot in various strains and flavors at Curaleaf Orange Park at 496 Blanding Blvd, the second for the company in the Jacksonville area and the 24th in the state.
Dylan Adams, regional manager for 12 Northeast and Central Florida locations, called Curaleaf’s statewide expansion rapid. He said the company’s location Blanding Blvd. was appealing.
“The patient demand is high. It’s been tremendous,” Adams said. “The ability to have great community engagement is paramount.”
In 2016, voters passed an amendment legalizing medical marijuana. Although legislators added several stipulations, legislators finally voted to approve smokable medical marijuana in March.
The store resembles a modern cellphone store, albeit with a tight security system. Customers provide staff their ID behind a window to check in. In lieu of approaching the L-shaped counter, they can visit consultation room.
Senior operations manager Vinit Patel oversees the Tampa and St. Petersburg area for the company. Patel said the Legislature’s bill attempting to cap THC levels in products, which failed last week, would have been a lose-lose for the customers.
“It’s a matter what the consumers and patients want,” Patel said. “What that cap does is make the people buy more product to seek the same level relief.”
Patel said he favorite story to tell is why he entered the cannabis business. A pharmacist by trade, he was dismayed by the opiate epidemic, calling it the worst abuse problem in the country’s history.
He was tired watching addicted patients falling apart in a vicious cycle.
“I wasn’t feeling like we were getting anywhere, and I felt like I was part of the