The First Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens in Miami Beach

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Karina Castrillo

The first medical marijuana dispensary in Miami Beach opened its doors earlier this week. Surterra Wellness, one of only five firms that have been approved by the state of Florida to sell medical marijuana, opened up shop steps away from the city’s busy Lincoln Road.

Located at 1523 Alton Road, the dispensary will sell a variety of vaporizer pens, oils, lotions and sprays tailored to the registered marijuana patient’s medical condition. Unlike most stores, patients who shop here will have access to a kitchen and a garden in an effort to make patients feel more comfortable as stated by Surterra CEO, Jake Bergmann.

Though the facility can only sell the cannabis-based products for patients with a doctor’s authorization, walk-ins are free to stop by to ask questions about marijuana as the facility will educate those interested.

The medical dispensary itself wouldn’t have opened were it not for last summer’s legislation. The city of Miami Beach was meant to permit only three dispensaries in the area, but was forced to abide by a legislation from June 2017 that prevents placing strict regulations on dispensaries that pharmacies don’t have.

The city can’t impose restrictions on the number of dispensaries unless they impose the same on pharmacies, so the city commissioners passed an ordinance to limit both to specific locations in the area.

Miami-Dade County has three medical marijuana dispensaries.

In Florida, there are 70,000 patients registered to receive medical marijuana treatment. Those patients can receive the Compassionate Use Registry Identification Card which grants them legal permission to purchase marijuana from a dispensary.

As for Miami Beach residents’ opinion on whether or not cannabis should be legalized, it’s a firm yes. 80% of voters favored the amendment signed into law by Governor Rick Scott to expand medical marijuana.

Florida voters have long approved the legalization of marijuana, and not just for medical purposes but recreational, too. A survey from the University of North Florida showed that 62% of voters would approve of a law regulating marijuana like alcohol. However, organizers supporting recreational marijuana failed to gather the 766,000 signatures by the February 1 deadline in order for it to have a place on this year’s November ballot.

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