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First Medical Cannabis Dispensary To Open In Gainesville

The founders of Knox Medical don’t want you to think of their new facilities as pot shops.

Standing behind the counter in a white-walled room accented with brick and lightly stained wood, Bruce Knox and Jose Hidalgo, co-founders of the company, are hoping it reminds you more of a medical or pharmaceutical space.

“What we’re doing is changing people’s perceptions as to what cannabis in Florida is all about, and we want it to feel exactly like this,” Knox said. “And as we created this concept, it was meant to feel more like an Apple store than a cannabis store.”

According to the Florida Department of Health website, Knox is the only dispensing facility in Gainesville.

But Gainesville communications officer Chip Skinner said Knox is one of four dispensaries that have been granted zoning compliance. The zoning compliance is to dispense the non-euphoric Charlotte’s Web for medical purposes only.

Of Knox’s six dispensaries being constructed, Gainesville will be the first to open Friday at 11 a.m. But since last year, Knox said they’ve been delivering to patients around the state from Knox Nursery, which operates out of Winter Garden.

On Wednesday, media was invited for a press tour of the small space. In what used to be a burger joint, there are now glass walls and iPads. Between packages of vaporizers and liquid drops on shelves throughout the room were hats and water bottles marked with the company’s soft green flowered logo.

But what patients won’t find in the store is marijuana sold in “smokable” form.

“I think smoking a medicine is almost counterintuitive,” Hidalgo said. “It’s like an oxymoron.”

In fact, Knox said the company only refers to their product as medical cannabis.

“From our vocabulary, we have banned the terms marijuana, pot, weed -- all of the slang terms,” he says.

But why Gainesville?

“Because I’m a Gator,” Knox jokes.

On a serious note, he says he thinks it’s going to be a good market for the company. “It kind of fit into the demographic that we’re looking for. And Orlando is just around the corner.”

“Just around the corner,” means Orlando can expect a new dispensary in the next couple of weeks. It will be followed by sites in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Lake Worth and St. Petersburg, each with a similar design.

In all locations, Hidalgo says he’s hoping to create a memorable experience for the patients coming to the dispensary.

As members of the media leave, he excitedly raises his voice, telling us to tell our friends “this is the most beautiful retail shop you’ve ever seen in your life.”


Cecilia is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by emailing mazanecc@ufl.edu.