Florida regulators haven’t OK’d Circle K-Green Thumb medical cannabis deal

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(This story has been updated to correct where Circle K is headquartered.)

Green Thumb Industries’ plan to lease space and open medical cannabis dispensaries adjacent to Circle K gas stations in Florida has hit a potential roadblock.

The state’s medical cannabis regulator confirmed to MJBizDaily that the agency has yet to approve the arrangement, a development first reported by the Washington Examiner.

“The state of Florida has never ever approved the licensing of this sort of material out of a gas station,” a Florida health department spokesperson told MJBizDaily.

“We have not approved this deal.”

Green Thumb (GTI), which brands its Florida dispensaries as Rise Express, has said the planned Circle K locations will not be located inside the gas station or convenience store and products will be sold only to approved MMJ cardholders.

The company noted in a statement to MJBizDaily Wednesday that its dispensaries “at Circle K locations will be adjacent to Circle K’s convenience stores, not inside of them. They will have independent entrances and there will not be walk-through access between the two stores.”

GTI also noted that “as with all dispensary locations in Florida, the opening of RISE Express stores remains subject to regulatory approval, and sales will be exclusively to Florida patients with a valid medical marijuana identification card.”

The lack of state approval could derail – or perhaps slow – what appeared to be a seismic shift in the marketplace amid the growing trend of mainstream businesses entering the cannabis sector.

Online marijuana platform Leafly last week partnered with delivery service Uber Eats to offer cannabis delivery orders through the popular Uber Eats smartphone app in Toronto, the most-populous city in Canada.

In the Circle K deal, GTI planned to start a “test and learn” rollout in 2023 with about 10 stores around the state, the Chicago-based cannabis company said in a news release last week.

Circle K, based in Laval, Quebec, has more than 600 stores in Florida.

The Rise Express stores affiliated with Circle K planned to sell flower, pre-rolls, vape cartridges and edibles.

“The opening of Rise Express stores at Circle K locations is a game-changer,” GTI founder and CEO Ben Kovler said in a statement last week.

“Convenience is a strong channel in retail, and people want more access to cannabis.”

Chris Casacchia can be reached at chris.casacchia@mjbizdaily.com.