Polk County to get first marijuana dispensary

Curaleaf plans to open Polk County’s first medical marijuana dispensary this summer at a shopping center in Lakeland.

Gary White @garywhite13

LAKELAND — When Lindsay Jones was a boy living in Lakeland, it would have seemed unthinkable that someday Floridians would be allowed to obtain marijuana-based products for use as medicine.

Now that he is CEO of one of the companies authorized to make medical marijuana in Florida, Jones is eager to give ailing residents of his hometown easier access to products he says can treat a range of maladies.

Jones’ company, Curaleaf, plans to open Polk County’s first medical marijuana dispensary this summer at a shopping center in Lakeland. Curaleaf, part of a company that operates in 11 states, is aiming for a mid-July opening in the Market Square strip mall at 3179 U.S. 98 N.

The shopping center includes a Guitar Center, a Bealls Outlet and a Just Move Athletic Club.

“When you understand our mission and our perspective to provide medical, cannabis-based products to as many registered and approved patients as we possibly can across the state of Florida, you can’t overlook the fact that Lakeland sits right in the middle of an area that has the second-largest population center in our state,” Jones said Friday. “So in order to expand our patient base, there is absolutely no way we can do that and not go through Lakeland as we move along.”

Jones said his personal connections to Lakeland provided further incentive to place a dispensary in the city. Jones graduated in 1968 from Rochelle High School, an all-black school that soon closed when local schools were racially integrated. (It is now Rochelle School of the Arts.)

With the opening of the Curaleaf dispensary, Polk County will have all three main elements of the medical marijuana industry.

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