Certain Florida Circle K gas stations will look a little different starting next year. The company signed an agreement with Green Thumb Industries to open a weed pharmacy adjacent to a convenience store.
Both will start small with a “test and learning phase” in 2023 with around 10 Rise Express dispensaries opened. Green Thumb Industries is looking to expand its medical retail footprint in the state, where Circle K operates approximately 600 locations. Florida has more than 700,000 people active in medical marijuana programs.
Ben Kovler, founder and CEO of Green Thumb Industries, called the agreement and Rise Express kept it a “game changer. He also said that it would make it easier “for patients to purchase high-quality cannabis as part of their daily routine while stopping by their local convenience store.” The new Rise Express outlets will sell various products, such as flowers, pre-rolls, gummies, and vapes.
Selling marijuana remains illegal under US federal law; however, there have been successful attempts to decriminalize it at the state level. Florida is one of the few that allows for medical use. It remains illegal in more than a dozen states.
Green Thumb Industries, which has been operating in Florida since 2018 and is headquartered in Chicago, will supply its products from the new Ocala cultivation center in Sunshine State. The 28-hectare facility will be operational by the end of the year. The company operates in 15 US markets, including 17 manufacturing facilities and 77 retail locations, employing approximately 4,000 people.
This is not the first time Circle K has partnered with a cannabis company. In October last year, Circle K’s parent company, Alimentation Couche-Tard, signed a similar agreement with Canadian cannabis retailer Fire and Flower. Alimentation Couche-Tard invested in Fire & Flower in 2019. The deal saw the pharmacy open next door to a convenience store.
Green Thumb Industries didn’t say what would happen after the “study and test phase.” However, if successful, it will likely expand across states and, possibly, countries. The majority of US states now allow its sale and consumption.