First medical marijuana dispensary in Clearwater opens

Kellie Cowan reports

- Three Bay Area patients were able to pick up medical marijuana in person Thursday from the first dispensary to open in Clearwater.

Trulieve, which opened the state's first dispensary in Tallahassee last month, will be able to sell qualified patients low and high-THC medical cannabis products from its new location at 24761 US Highway 19 North, Suite 630 in Clearwater. 

Though signed into law two years ago, a series of roadblocks and delays kept patients from receiving the experimental medication until this summer. 

"I think, if it can help people in any way, then it should be allowed," said Bonnie, a skin cancer patient who picked up her first 45-day supply of low-THC CBD capsules Thursday morning. "Everyone should be able to have it if they need it, especially the poor kids who have seizures and things like that."

In order to buy from the dispensary, patients will have to be registered on the state's Compassionate Use registry and can only qualify if they suffer from epilepsy, sever seizures or muscle spasms, cancer or are deemed terminally ill. In order to write an order for a patient, doctors must complete an eight-hour online training course.

So far, more than 90 physicians in the state, including a dozen Bay Area doctors, have taken the online certification course. 

Unless deemed "terminally ill" by at least two physicians, qualifying patients will only be able to buy low-THC, non-euphoric versions of medical cannabis in the state of Florida.

"There's no high or anything like that at all with it. It just makes me not shake. I don't feel anything else," said Pat Caudill, a veteran of the Vietnam War who suffers from PTSD and tremors.

Caudill said, since being exposed to agent orange in combat, his hands shake so violently that he's limited in daily activities.

"I can't eat soup and it's hard for me to eat, but this has really helped me a lot, in just the week or so that I've had it," said Caudill.

Caudill said he's used the CBD pills for a week and has noticed his tremors have been reduced significantly.

"It's unbelievable what it does. Not to get high, but to use it as a medical use, it's outstanding," said Caudill. "I would recommend this to anybody."

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