Investors and others bullish on the news that Green Thumb Industries (OTCQX: GTBIF) would start selling medical marijuana out of stores attached to Florida Circle K gas stations next year may have to curb their enthusiasm.
The state’s Department of Health told Green Market Report that the project “has not been approved by the state.”
“Florida has never approved a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center to operate out of a gas station,” the department said in an email.
It’s not a complete shutdown of the plan however. The proposal could “certainly be approved” as long it is compliant with the statute and implementing rules, according to Sally Peebles, a Jacksonville-based partner at the national cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg and co-chair of the state’s Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee.
“Real estate is the most expensive part of an MMTC’s operations, and if a company can figure how to compliantly utilize an existing building that already has foot traffic directed to it and would also be convenient to patients, then it would be a savvy smart move,” Peebles said. “I imagine some construction would still be needed and some retrofitting to adhere to the vast security requirements that MMTCs are subject to, but not an impossible lift.”
A spokesperson for Green Thumb said that the stores would be “adjacent” to Circle K’s retail stores, rather than inside of them.
“They will have independent entrances, and there will not be walkthrough access between the two stores,” the Green Thumb spokesperson said.
The company is approaching the plan with the same rigor as its other dispensaries: “As with all dispensary locations in Florida, the opening of RISE Express stores remains subject to regulatory approval, and sales will be exclusively to Florida patients with a valid medical marijuana identification card,” the spokesperson noted.
How the companies plan to go about gaining regulatory approval remains unclear. Neither the state health department nor Green Thumb commented on whether the two have had serious discussions about the prospect.
Green Thumb has been operating in the Florida market since 2018 and currently operates seven medical cannabis retail stores, according to the most recent Office of Medical Marijuana Use update.
More than 700,000 Floridians currently are registered active cardholders in the state’s medical marijuana program, according to the state’s Department of Health.