Florida medical marijuana patients will soon be able to buy weed, rolling papers, snacks, and gas at select Circle K convenience stores throughout the state.
Alimentation Couche-Tard, the Canadian company that owns Circle K, just signed a partnership with Green Thumb Industries, a multistate cannabis operator that runs 77 dispensaries in 15 US states. As part of a new “test and learn” pilot program, the companies plan to open RISE Express medical cannabis dispensaries at 10 Circle K gas stations in Florida next year. These new shops will sell flower, pre-rolls, edibles and vapes, but only to adults who are registered with the state medical marijuana program.
“The opening of RISE Express stores at Circle K locations is a game-changer. Convenience is a strong channel in retail, and people want more access to cannabis,” said Green Thumb Founder, Chairman and CEO Ben Kovler in a statement. “The new RISE Express model is a huge step forward in making it easier and more efficient for patients to purchase high-quality cannabis as part of their everyday routine when stopping by their local convenience store.”
Both of these companies have already established a firm footing in the Sunshine State. Circle K currently operates around 600 gas stations and convenience stores in the state, and Green Thumb has been operating medical marijuana dispensaries there since 2018. To help supply the goods for the new dispensaries, the company is building out a new 28-acre cultivation facility in Ocala, which is expected to open by the end of this year.
This new collab isn't Circle K's first rodeo with the legal cannabis industry. Last year, Alimentation Couche-Tard partnered with Canadian cannabis firm Fire & Flower to open legal adult-use shops adjacent to Circle K outlets in Canada. The partners plan to open a total of 10 co-located stores, the first of which have already opened for business in Alberta and Ontario. Couche-Tard also purchased a 35% stake in Fire & Flower, and that company is currently working to expand into adult-use states in the US.
Adult-use cannabis is still illegal in Florida, but that fact probably won't stop Circle K's new partnership from raking in hefty profits. Even though Republican lawmakers have made great efforts to impose senseless restrictions on the state's medical marijuana program, Florida's legal weed industry still outsells most other states' adult-use industries. In July, dispensaries sold nearly $194 million worth of legal weed, more than any adult-use state except California and Michigan.
Growing sales figures indicate that Florida's demand for medical cannabis will stay strong for the foreseeable future. The Sunshine State's dispensaries sold $1.5 billion worth of bud last year – more than Oregon's adult-use industry did – and sales have grown by 27% over the course of this year. As of last week, the state has 758,526 registered patients, 2,572 physicians authorized to recommend cannabis to those patients, and 486 dispensaries that currently have over 82,000 ounces of medicine in stock.
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