Pasco's first medical marijuana dispensary a welcome sight for patients

NEW PORT RICHEY — Lynn Gibbs had a smile on her face as she entered the new Trulieve dispensary on Monday morning. For two years, Gibbs has used medical marijuana to help treat Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.

It’s working, said Gibbs, 62, who started treatments in Rhode Island where she previously resided and continued when she moved to Spring Hill.

“It put me in remission,” she said.

Until now, buying marijuana entailed a 60-minute trek to Trulieve’s medical marijuana treatment center in Tampa. She’s elated to see the first dispensary come to Pasco County.

This is definitely more convenient, said Gibbs, who knocked 40 minutes off her round-trip drive. Add to that — no more tolls.

Gibbs’ response is on par with other customers, according to store manager Zach Evangelist, since Trulieve opened on June 6, moving into a storefront that used to be a barber shop and travel agency. More than 100 people lined up the first day before Evangelist unlocked the doors.

Many came for the special 25 percent discount, he said, a boon since medical marijuana is not covered by insurance. By day’s end, the store served some 300 customers.

“It was crazy,” said patient consultant Lisa Blustein. Business has been steady, with pockets of quiet, ever since, she said.

According to a press release from the Gadsden-based company, the state Office of Medical Marijuana Use recently announced the state had more than 112,000 registered medical marijuana patients, with the count growing each week. More than 1,300 ordering physicians are registered statewide.

The New Port Richey store is the 15th Florida location for Trulieve, filling a need for patients like Gibbs who had to travel to Hillsborough or Pinellas county for marijuana or pay a $25 delivery fee.


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