By Deja Boyd
The cannabis industry has blossomed into a lucrative market in America. Since the legalization of medicinal marijuana in 2016, the city of Tallahassee’s cannabis industry has been changing the lives and perspectives of its citizens about marijuana.
“I think the presence of all of the dispensaries in Tallahassee, including CuraLeaf has changed the perspectives of Tallahassee’s citizens, because before it was associated more with criminal activity and there was a lot of stigma about it. But I think now people are realizing the benefits of it and it is not as bad as people think it is,” said Monserrat Medina, a dispensary associate for CuraLeaf.
Medina also mentioned that a lot of older patients are now shifting to this alternative health method to treat their illnesses. She said the older patients are becoming open to the cannabis industry due to the health benefits and different variations of medicinal marijuana.
CuraLeaf has only been around since 2018. Since then it has expanded to operate in 23 states. They have 93 local dispensaries, 22 cultivation sites, 30 processing sites, and over a thousand active wholesale dispensary accounts. The company also has over 350,000 registered patients as well, which makes CuraLeaf the largest cannabis company in the world.
Cannabis, also known as marijuana, has been around since at least 500 BC, according to History.com. Many people smoke it recreationally, which is not legal in Florida. But medicinal marijuana treats illnesses and pains like anxiety, depression, eating disorders, insomnia cancer and other conditions.
Shareta Backey, a 42-year-old Tallahassee native, has been a medicinal marijuana patient for two years, and according to her, it has completely changed her life for the better. “My anxiety is so bad that I begin to break out into a drenching sweat. I am also a diabetic. So it helps regulate my insulin levels as well and my eating habits! I lost over 30 pounds since using this alternative health method,” said Backey.
According to Healthline.com, “Cannabis is made up of more than 120 components, which are known as cannabinoids. Two of them are known as Cannabidiol (CBD), which is a psychoactive cannabinoid, but without the high, and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for the “high” that most people associate with cannabis.”
GrowHealthy in Tallahassee is a cannabis company that seems to promote philanthropy, wellness, and education through their array of products. These products include the actual cannabis flower, vapes, relief cremes and oils and edibles.
“A lot of people are starting to realize that medicinal marijuana is not just a schedule 1 drug like Heroine and Meth. CBD and THC has a seemly odd relationship. THC is more so for pain and sedateness. CBD works together with our cannabinoid system in our bodies,” said Roderick Ramirez, dispensary associate at Grow Healthy.
Through their philanthropy, Grow Healthy has teamed up with the “Last Prisoner Project,” which is fights against criminal injustice for the more than 40,000 people who are in prison for cannabis “marijuana” offenses.
In recent years, marijuana has become more decriminalized. The stigma around medicinal marijuana has led to multiple people, especially people of color and black people, becoming victims of criminal injustice in America.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), marijuana arrests account for over half of the U.S. drug arrests. Due to racial biases, Black people are almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than white people, despite equal usage rates.
In Leon County, there is a program for first-time offenders called the “Adult Civil Citation program.” This is a pre-arrest criminal justice diversion that use affordable alternative methods that provide qualified offenders the opportunity to escape the regular process of being prosecuted for the low-level offense of “possession of marijuana.”
Since the legalization of medicinal marijuana, more people are becoming educated and aware of some of the positives that surround using it. This has ultimately changed the perspectives of some citizens and decreased some of the stigma around using cannabis to treat medical conditions.