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- English footballer (born 1948)
If a patient walks into a medical marijuana dispensary today in Florida, the variety that meets them can be a bit intimidating.
There are different strains of marijuana that have different effects. There are different delivery methods ranging from dried plant material to concentrates of tetrahydrocannabinol to food products infused with marijuana.
A New York-based company that operates across 18 different jurisdictions in America and also in the European Union aims to make that process less daunting with the introduction of technology at its dispensaries.
One of Columbia Care’s dispensaries is located in Sarasota at 6979 S. Tamiami Trail.
On Wednesday that location rebranded to Cannbist and integrated the technology at its Florida locations.
In other news: SRQ to add 53rd nonstop flight to Sarasota-Bradenton airport
What is the 'online cannabis discovery tool'?
Inside the store on Tamiami Trail, a patient will no longer have to speak with the dispensary’s employees to figure out exactly what products they would like to buy to best suit their needs.
Instead, there are several digital kiosks that connect patients to Forage, a digital technology that Columbia Care describes as an “online cannabis discovery tool.”
Patients do not need to go into the store to access Forage as they can input their preferences online at Forage.io, then schedule to pick it up at the medical marijuana dispensary near them.
Jesse Channon, chief growth officer with Columbia Care, said the change from an infrastructure standpoint is significant, and that it will help guide patients to the right choices for them.
“It (Forage) creates a lot more opportunity for passive education,” he said.
Channon said if the use of marijuana ever becomes recreational in Florida, the number of options would explode at its Florida dispensaries, going from a couple hundred products today to more than 1,600 different strains and products.
Channon sees the implementation of Forage at its Florida locations as a way to improve its patients' experience by helping them choose the right products for them. But it will also have the effect of positioning the company to be able to benefit if Florida makes marijuana legal recreationally.
That’s something Channon said he believes will likely happen in the next few years.
“This country is incredibly split on a number of different issues,” he said. “Cannabis is not one of them.”
An April Pew Research poll reported that 60% of Americans believe that marijuana should be legal for medicinal and recreational uses, 30% believe that marijuana should be legal only for medical uses and just 8% said that marijuana should be illegal for adults.
Among Republicans, 47% said they felt that marijuana should be legal for both recreational and medical uses, and 40% saying it should only be used for medicinal reasons.
Democrats had an overwhelming majority at 72% responding in favor of both recreational and medicinal uses being legal.
Channon called polls that show a strong majority in favor of legal recreational use “an undeniable data set” and pointed to many jurisdictions that have seen strong tax revenue gains from legalizing recreational use.
“You’re going to see continued momentum toward normalization,” he said.
Florida, he said, is already a mature, well-established market with a broad patient base.
“This state (Florida) shows all the signs that it will shift to an adult-use market,” he said. “When it does, it will overnight become one of the most meaningful in the country.”
This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Will recreational marijuana be in Florida stores?