Last week, Circle K announced that 10 of its Florida locations will house to-go dispensaries in 2023. Now, regulators are saying ‘not so fast’ as the deal still faces legal hurdles.
Last week, Circle K announced a huge step in the mainstreaming of marijuana: 10 RISE Express dispensaries are reportedly setting up shop inside Circle K stores across Florida as early as next year.
It’s a poetic turn for stoners nationwide, many of whom have scored illegally from some dude or dudette at their local gas station for years. There’s only one problem with the plan: The state’s Department of Health (DOH) has not given any regulatory approval to the announced partnership.
This week, Health Department officials told the Washington Examiner that the state has not yet approved the details that Circle K and RISE disclosed in their announcement.
“Florida has never approved a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center to operate out of a gas station,” a spokesperson from the Department of Health told the Washington Examiner after the reported deal went viral last week. The DOH representative added: “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.”
DOH officials say they have not signed off on any plans that would allow medical cannabis to be sold at gas stations across the state.
According to a release from Couche-Tard, the Canadian company that owns Circle K, the proposed deal would let Green Thumb Industries (GTI), owner of RISE Dispensaries, open “RISE Express” locations adjacent to Circle K convenience stores and gas stations. So while the gas station wouldn’t technically be selling cannabis inside the Circle K, the partnership would be another milestone for the entire legalization movement.
Circle K’s parent company worked on a similar pilot program with Canadian retailer Fire & Flower last year to launch pick-up hubs across the country. In the states, the Atlantic Farms shop in Portland, Maine, has a Gas N’ Grass cannabis convenience store. But that doesn’t make the Circle K and RISE partnership any less historic, if the companies can actually pull it off.
Did they jump the gun by announcing without approval? Maybe. But even with regulators from the Sunshine State raining on their parade, the viral marketing push the announcement sparked is likely still worth the drama.
Stay tuned; strange things remain afoot at the Circle K.