LOOK INSIDE: Palm Beach County’s first medical marijuana store opens


Palm Beach County’s first medical marijuana dispensary opened Tuesday, and Steve Buchholz of Lake Worth was among the first customers.

Buchholz, 57, said he suffers from chronic knee pain stemming from a high school football injury 40 years ago.

NEW: Florida’s pot patient count tops 50,000

“Every step I take every day is painful,” Buchholz said as he waited for Knox Medical’s new location in downtown Lake Worth to open.

Prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications don’t work especially well and cause side effects, he said, but cannabis relieves the pain of his arthritis.

“I can still actually function,” Buchholz said.

As Florida’s budding cannabis industry takes root, Knox Medical’s Lake Worth dispensary is the first dispensary to open between Miami and Orlando. The store’s location reflects just how quickly marijuana has gone mainstream: It’s directly across the street from Lake Worth City Hall, and it occupies a high-traffic location in a former bank branch.

More than 50,000 Floridians had won permission to buy cannabis through the state’s medical marijuana program as of Nov. 8, and pot’s popularity has surprised the expectations of even Jose Hidalgo, chief executive of Miami-based Knox Medical.

“I always say the speed of cannabis is faster than the speed of light,” Hidalgo told reporters Tuesday as he showed off the new facility.

The white floors and postmodern lines at Knox Medical’s dispensary are reminiscent of an Apple store. It’s brightly lighted, and security cameras are everywhere.

For now, Knox Medical sells just eight products, although it plans to begin selling a ninth — a topical cream — next week. Its vape cartridges and liquid drops contain varying levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and cannabidiol, or CBD, two of the active ingredients in cannabis.

Prices are 15 cents a milligram, so 300 milligrams of product cost $45, while 600 milligrams go for $90.

Cannabis isn’t covered by insurance, and Knox Medical accepts cash or debit cards but not credit cards. The federal prohibition on marijuana means credit card issuers aren’t keen on cannabis transactions.

Knox Medical is one of six companies that have won state permission to grow, process and sell medical marijuana. Seven more companies have been approved by state regulators and are setting up their businesses.

Launching a medical marijuana company in Florida requires steep startup costs, and Hidalgo said profitability remains far in the future. For now, he said, his focus is on patients with cancer, Parkinson’s disease and other illnesses.

“We’re seeing a very sick population of patients,” he said. “It will bring you to tears just talking to them.”

At Knox Medical, customers must prove that they’re listed on Florida’s Medical Marijuana Use Registry to be allowed past the main entrance.

While Knox Medical is the first pot shop in Palm Beach County, a competing dispensary is expected to open at 1125 N. Dixie Highway in Lake Worth, and cannabis stores also are planned in Broward County and Vero Beach.

While physicians remain skeptical of medical marijuana, more than 1,000 Florida doctors have taken a training course that allows them to recommend cannabis. Dr. Ahmed El-Haddad, a trauma surgeon in Palm Beach County, opened an office in West Palm Beach to certify patients for the state’s marijuana program.

El-Haddad said his interest in cannabis was sparked by seeing surgery patients grow addicted to painkillers.

“I’ve seen a lot of patients come out and get addicted to opiates,” El-Haddad said. “This is an amazing alternative.”

He charges $250 for a consultation. If a patient is approved for Florida’s cannabis registry, the Department of Health charges a $75 fee.

RELATED COVERAGE:

First Green Bank becomes first Florida institution to take deposits from cannabis companies

Green rush is on: Canadian cannabis company pays $40 million for Florida marijuana grower that’s still in “pre-revenue” phase

Palm Beach County commissioners move to end moratorium on pot shops

Former Miami Dolphin Ricky Williams says he still uses marijuana to deal with football’s wear and tear

Amendment 2 wins in landslide: What’s next for legal pot?

Inside Colorado’s pot shops: A picture of Florida’s future?

Medical marijuana backers in Florida not looking to California for model

Even when pot is legal, bosses can fire workers for testing positive

John Morgan and Sheldon Adelson: Meet the money men behind Florida’s pot fight

Hazy science: Is weed a wonder drug?

Why marijuana businesses can’t get a checking account

Disappointment for medical pot patients who revealed their secret during Amendment 2 campaign



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in

Traffic, charter school and hotel plans stir Royal Palm Beach debate
Traffic, charter school and hotel plans stir Royal Palm Beach debate

A proposed development near one of Palm Beach County’s busiest intersections at Southern Boulevard and State Road 7 is winning an early round of green lights from the village council, but not without stirring up questions about traffic, a proposed charter school and the height of a proposed hotel. Developer Brian Tuttle said the goal is to provide...
Check out our new podcast: Inside Florida Politics
Check out our new podcast: Inside Florida Politics

Take a listen to our new podcast “Inside Florida Politics” Host George Bennett from the Palm Beach Post, Zac Anderson from the Sarasota Herald-Tribute and legendary state capitol embedded newsman John Kennedy discuss the upcoming Florida primary and the prospects of a "blue wave." But wait, there’s more! Check out some...
Pebb comes back from tragedy with Tesla dealer, Gander Mountain site
Pebb comes back from tragedy with Tesla dealer, Gander Mountain site

Tesla will open a new dealership and service center in West Palm Beach, thanks to a Palm Beach County real estate firm that’s bouncing back after a tragedy nearly three years ago. Earlier this week, Pebb Enterprises became the owner of the empty Gander Mountain store at Interstate 95 and Northlake Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens...
Cool the room with a smart air conditioner
Cool the room with a smart air conditioner

Just in time for the real heat of the summer, GE Appliances has a new smart air conditioner that keeps you from breaking a sweat to control the flow of cooler air with voice assistants. You won’t even have to get out of bed to adjust the air during bedtime hours. With a simple command to your iPad, iPhone or Apple Watch to access Apple Home app...
Could blockchain technology transform homebuying?
Could blockchain technology transform homebuying?

From the opening bid to the close of the sale, the process of buying a house is likely the most convoluted, complex and redundant that most consumers face. Blockchain technology could change that — eventually. In Illinois, officials at the Cook County recorder’s office want to clear the way. Meanwhile, technology firms are attacking all...
More Stories