• Orlando's first medical-marijuana dispensary to open Friday

    By: WFTV Web Stafff , Lauren Seabrook

    Updated:

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Orlando’s first licensed medical-marijuana dispensary is set to open in Orlando on Friday.

    Winter Garden-based Knox Medical was founded by Jose Hidalgo, CEO, and Bruce Knox, COO.

    The dispensary will serve patients registered with the Compassionate Use Registry.

    Knox Medical won a competition in 2015 to be Central Florida’s first facility to grow and dispense medical marijuana.

    Patients won’t find buds to smoke or edibles--the dispensary will only sell oil and vapor cartridges.

    For about $45, the patient can get 300 milligrams of THC; 600 milligrams will cost about $90.

    “It’s a complete departure from what people expect,” said Knox. “We’re not talking about an illicit drug that we’re selling here. It’s a medication to help people in need.” 

    He said he hopes people will think of the dispensary as a pharmacy.

    “It’s about changing people’s perceptions, whether it be the municipalities or the residents in an area,” Knox said.

     

     

    Patients will be able to use credit or debit cards, but because most tend to pay in cash, Hidalgo said a security team will monitor the site 24/7.

    “The safety is both for our patients and employees, and for the community, because businesses are around, as well,” he said. “We have, on site, at all times, an armed security guard.”

     

     

    Orlando city leaders gave their approval dispensing low-THC cannabis.

    Read: Some proposed medical marijuana dispensaries don't meet Orlando criteria

    Knox Medical’s location would be too close to a school under a proposed ordinance, but the city said it plans to grandfather in the dispensary.

    “It really is no different. It should have no different zoning than what a pharmacy has,” Knox said. “It should be in a medical area or in a retail area.”

    He said business owners and residents throughout Ivanhoe Village have been very welcoming.

     

     

    He hopes the pristine storefront, paired with success stories from the people they’ll be able to treat, will change the stigma surrounding medical marijuana.

    “It’s really humbling to interact with patients and to know that we’re helping people one patient at a time,” Knox said. “We’re dealing with patients who, in some cases, this is their last hope.”

    Knox Medical is one of seven companies in the state licensed to cultivate and sell marijuana to those with prescriptions.

    Nearly 800 doctors can write prescriptions for medical cannabis throughout the state.

    About 100 of them are in Orange County.

    Patients must be under their doctor’s care for three months before they’re eligible.

    Amendment 2, approved by 71 percent of Florida voters on Election Day, allows higher-strength marijuana to be used for a wider list of medical ailments, but lawmakers have not decided how it will be regulated. 

    The grand opening for the Orlando location on 1902 North Orange Avenue starts at 11:30 a.m. Friday.

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