Last week, everyone held their breath for the days leading up to Hurricane Irma. Now, as we Floridians begin picking up the debris, we can reflect on what was one of the strongest storms on record.
For the burgeoning Florida medical cannabis business, that means being thankful for a tremendous amount of luck. What could have completely decimated the industry mostly spared the entire state’s supply of medical cannabis.
As Irma approached, the entire industry took notice and while worrying about their families and homes, also dealt with uncertainty about where a major storm would leave their crops. With an emerging industry like medical cannabis, there are tight timelines that need to be hit outside of even growing. Between power outages, gasoline shortages, and the hurricane force winds themselves, an agricultural operation can be tough to maintain.
The Florida Department of Health did not respond Thursday to an email seeking comment. But there’s good news for the state’s more than 36,000 registered patients: While the state’s agricultural industry suffered significant damage from the storm, a majority of Florida’s 12 licensed cultivators and distributors say that their greenhouses, distribution centers, and retail outlets appear to have emerged mostly unscathed.
— Surterra Wellness (@Surterra) September 13, 2017
Surterra Wellness, one of Florida’s largest growers, operating in Tampa, tweeted “Minor flooding, a missing roof, but all plants are safe!” on Wednesday after the storm,
“We were thankfully spared the worst of the storm and have fared well considering the plight of others,” commented Flor Santiesteban, a spokesman for Modern Health Concepts, based out of Redland in Southwest Miami-Dade. “Our cultivation and processing facilities are up and running with backup power at the moment, and we resumed filling patient orders yesterday.”
Dispensaries were also affected by the hurricane, mostly due to power outages and the lack of available gasoline. Trulieve, one of the large and expanding dispensary chains in the state, were forced to suspend their delivery services temporarily following the storm, tweeting; “due to fuel shortages statewide we are suspending our delivery service temporarily. We apologize for the inconvenience.”
Knox Medical’s Wynwood headquarters incurred minor damage. But the company is still operating and has resumed deliveries to the north part of the state. Knox hopes to begin serving South Florida again with deliveries early next week.
“The Knox Medical cultivation facility in Winter Garden and dispensaries around the state suffered minimal damage from Hurricane Irma. As of today, all four of Knox Medical’s dispensaries are open and welcoming patients on the Medical Marijuana Use registry,” a spokesman said.
While we know medical marijuana is not the first concern among Floridians, there are a lot of patients who rely on the budding industry for relief. Our headquarters is in St. Petersburg, FL and we are a proud member of this community. We are glad to see Floridians coming together and helping each other in the aftermath of Irma. Much of South Florida and the Keys can still use help and if you feel you can donate, here are some great outlets to do that.