Lake Wales-based medical marijuana dispensary closer to opening

By Stephanie Claytor, Reporter
Last Updated: Saturday, January 07, 2017, 5:25 PM EST

A recently licensed medical marijuana company based in Lake Wales is getting ready to open its doors to the public.

  • GrowHealthy is 7th company licensed to dispense low THC medical cannabis
  • Company operating out of former mattress warehouse
  • License initially denied by the state; later granted after lengthy appeal

GrowHealthy is the seventh company in Florida licensed to grow and dispense low THC medical cannabis, according to its Chief Horticulture Officer, Darrin Potter.  The company currently operates out of a nearly 200,000 square foot old mattress warehouse in Lake Wales.

Potter calls the site "very secure."  

“We have a fenced-in perimeter. We have a guard house. We have cameras and sensors to see the entire perimeter of the building as well as the inside of the building. Every single access is maintained and controlled,” Potter said.

Inside, the company has some lights and empty demonstration pots set up. According to Potter, the company has spent $2 million on renovations already, but there’s still more work to be done.

Ph: Stephanie Claytor, staff

Additionally, the facility will have to pass a Department of Health inspection before it is authorized to start growing marijuana.

“Then we’ll move forward in cultivation and we’ll start renovations on our laboratory,” Potter said. “Once we build our laboratory out, then we’ll go through processing authorization and the Department of Health will do another site visit.”

Potter went on to say the Department of Health would then inspect its dispensaries, the last hurdle before the company would be able to sell medical marijuana. The plan is to start distributing in the summer to patients registered with the state.

For GrowHealthy, it's just another step in what has been a very long bureaucratic journey, one that almost ended before it began. The Department of Health initially denied GrowHealthy its license.

Potter said they appealed, and learned just a few days before Christmas that they won the resulting legal battle.

“We’re very happy that the process worked,” Potter said.

Along the way, the company has received a lot of support from Lake Wales City officials.

“It’s a building that had sat unused for, what, ten years?" said Lake Wales City Manager Ken Fields. "Now suddenly you’re going to have 40 to 60 people employed there. It’s got to be a boom for the city in terms of the tax base growth."