Number of Florida pot patients doubles -- and The Villages gets a second dispensary


Floridians are flocking to the state’s new medical marijuana program. More than 33,000 patients were registered to buy weed as of Aug. 23, up from fewer than 17,000 in early June, according to the state Department of Health.

The new industry already is moving in some unexpected directions. For instance, while Palm Beach County (population: 1.4 million) has no pot shops, The Villages, the heavily Republican retirement community in rural central Florida, has one dispensary and is about to get a second.

Trulieve operates a dispensary in nearby Lady Lake. And Liberty Health Sciences, another of the state-licensed cannabis providers, plans a location near The Villages, too. The company has signed a lease in Summerfield and is awaiting state regulatory approval to open, says George Scorsis, Liberty Health Sciences’ Florida head.

Scorsis says The Villages’ older demographic fits with the profile of patients who have medical issues that make them eligible for Florida’s pot program. And Scorsis says his own research shows residents of The Villages proved remarkably receptive to the notion of cannabis as medicine.

“We have done extensive time talking to patients,” Scorsis said. “I was amazed by how open the community was.”


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