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Friday, March 31, 2023

Ocala: Higher concentration of medical marijuana dispensaries than Miami, Orlando

Ocala has a higher concentration of medical marijuana dispensaries than most major cities in the state of Florida.

While many municipalities around Florida have proceeded into the medical marijuana industry with reluctance, Ocala is one of the few that has embraced and encouraged the growth of the industry.

A look at the list of all medical marijuana dispensaries in the state of Florida shows high concentrations in major cities like Orlando, Jacksonville, and Miami. But most cities under the 100,000 population threshold have few or no medical marijuana dispensaries.

Ocala currently has five.

In addition to the five fully operating medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits, there are a handful more in nearby Sumter County.

Trulieve in Ocala, Florida (2)
Trulieve in Ocala, Florida

The five medical marijuana dispensaries in Ocala serve an estimated population of just over 61,000, which means Ocala is currently averaging one dispensary for every 12,000 people in the city.

Comparatively, Orlando currently sits at one dispensary for every 27,000 residents, Miami/Miami Beach at one for every 50,000 residents, and Jacksonville at one for every 100,000 residents.

That’s almost a 10:1 difference between Ocala and Jacksonville in dispensaries per capita.

Although Ocala’s proximity to Gainesville and the University of Florida could be a potential factor, Gainesville itself has ten dispensaries to serve its 134,000+ residents.

GrowHealthy in Ocala Florida
GrowHealthy in Ocala Florida

The number of dispensaries in Ocala will surely grow over the coming months. Currently, the state law only permits a limited number of licenses to be issued to Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers, which has been a limiting factor in the growth of the industry. Opponents of the limits prescribed in the law have argued they are unconstitutional because of their vertical integration requirement.

The vertical integration requirement essentially prevents smaller organizations from entering the marketplace by requiring all companies wishing to distribute prescriptions to also grow and maintain harvests themselves.

Imagine if Amazon was forced to create all of its own products instead of being an aggregator of products from other vendors.

Currently, there are only a dozen or so companies that own and operate hundreds of dispensaries across the state, including GrowHealthy, Trulieve, Curaleaf, Surterra, and One Plant, who all have locations in Ocala.