Knox Nursery in Winter Garden has become the first medical marijuana dispensary in Central Florida.
Winter Garden's Knox Nursery, founded in 1962, turned over a new leaf in May after it obtained a license to grow and sell low-THC marijuana for medical use.
The first home deliveries that reached patients on Friday, Dec. 9, were grown and cultivated in another temporary facility, but starting in mid-January, the nursery will be using 30,000 square feet of greenhouse space located at 940 Avalon Road for its new crops.
The trio leading the nursery's new venture into the highly-regulated business of medical cannabis are Knox Nursery CEO Bruce Knox, Knox Medical CEO Jose Hidalgo and lead chemical engineer Alex Karol. Knox Medical is a subsidiary company they developed to run their medical cannabis business.
"This is a very, very exciting day for us," Hidalgo said. Everything we've done is with the patients in mind and with those who've been suffering and waiting for this day."
On Wednesday, Dec. 7, the company executives gave press-only tours of their extraction room and laboratory where marijuana is grounded into a fine powdery substance in preparation for an oil extraction process. That oil is then rigorously tested for impurities before it is converted into either drops, pills or inserted in vape pens for patients to use.
The family-owned nursery has traditionally grown a variety of flowers for Orlando's theme parks, but the decision to cultivate medical pot for ailing patients came about two years ago when the state passed the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014. The law allows marijuana extracts low in euphoria-inducing THC, short for tetrahydrocannabinol, and high in CBD, short for cannabidiol, to be prescribed to eligible patients for medical relief.
"For me, there's a personal side to this," Knox shared. "I have two family members with epilepsy. So that is one of the reasons that I wanted to go down this path to begin with."
According to a press release, the company will also open five dispensaries in Gainesville, Jacksonville, Lake Worth and Tallahassee in early 2017.
Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected]