PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Months after smokable medical marijuana became legal in Florida some patients say it's been difficult to obtain through dispensaries.
- Full flower cannabis takes 3 to 5 months to grow
- Since change in law is still recent, dispensaries need time to catch up to demand
- More Pinellas County stories
Each morning, Jason Gray plays fetch with his dog.
After about a half hour, he gets tired and heads back inside, where he spends most of his time.
Having a neurological disorder takes a lot out of him.
“When I wake up in the morning I shake, and I really can’t talk,” said Gray, who suffers from dystonia.
According to Gray, cannabis oil is the only thing that's helped him effectively manage his symptoms. In addition, he uses smokable marijuana to deal with side effects.
But tracking down a dispensary that has smokable marijuana available is an activity in and of itself.
“What you have to do is stalk the website and stalk the dispensaries that do live inventory, and as soon as you realize they have something you want, you place your order as soon as you can, so that makes a rush to get everything,” said Gray.
Many local dispensaries say it’s a demand that has been tough to keep up with.
“Once we have it on the shelves, it’s gone,” said Nick Hansen, VP of government affairs at MedMen Dispensary.
Hansen says full flower cannabis takes three to five months to grow, and since this was only recently made legal, dispensaries need some time to catch up.
“We’re adding a new grow house, we have a large facility in the works that we’re breaking ground on in Eustis to be able to service our stores across the state,” said Hansen.
In the meantime, Gray worries that patients in dire need might be driven to a black market.
“[Demand is] pushing people who are patients and wouldn’t necessarily have anything to do with the black market or the gray market to the black or gray market,” said Gray.
He believes the answer to the problem is policy change, and Hansen agrees.
Several bills have been introduced, so that change could come as soon as the next session.
Republican State Senator Anthony Sabatini has already introduced a bill that would get rid of the “seed to sale” law in Florida, which requires medical marijuana companies to grow the product they are selling.
If eliminated, more companies would be able to assist in production.