Hurricane Irma devastated the Florida Keys, flooded Brickell and Coconut Grove and hammered Naples with 140-mile-per-hour winds this weekend before tearing through the entire Florida peninsula and into the southeast United States.
But despite its path and strength, the massive hurricane appears to have spared the state’s multimillion-dollar supply of medical marijuana.
“Minor flooding, a missing roof, but all plants are safe!” Surterra Wellness, one of Florida’s largest cultivators, based in Tampa, tweeted Wednesday.
Before Irma ever formed in the Atlantic, some in the industry questioned how the business would survive a major hurricane. The storm provided the answer, cutting through the entire state and passing over every single facility to some degree. The storm also threatened companies’ methods of delivering medicine to patients by causing a gasoline shortage.
The Florida Department of Health did not respond Thursday to an email seeking comment. But there’s good news for the state’s more than 36,000 registered patients: While the state’s agricultural industry suffered significant damage from the storm, a majority of Florida’s 12 licensed cultivators and distributors say that their greenhouses, distribution centers and retail outlets appear to have emerged mostly unscathed.
“We were thankfully spared the worst of the storm and have fared well considering the plight of others,” said Flor Santiesteban, a spokesman for Modern Health Concepts, based in Redland in Southwest Miami-Dade. “Our cultivation and processing facilities are up and running with backup power at the moment, and we resumed filling patient orders yesterday.”
Other distributors, including The Green Solution and Liberty Health Sciences in Alachua, made out fine, according to the companies. Bill Monroe, director of dispensary management for 3 Boys Farm, one of the newest license-holders in the state, said, “We got a little bit of damage to some top elements of the greenhouse from some things blown around,” but otherwise emerged intact.
Trulieve, a Tallahassee company that owns the only standalone dispensary in Miami-Dade County, said its retail outlet near Miami International Airport re-opened Wednesday. The company had to suspend its delivery services temporarily because of fuel shortages, but its schedule was back on track by Thursday.
Knox Medical’s Wynwood headquarters sustained some damage. But the company is still operating and has resumed deliveries to the north part of the state. Knox hopes to begin serving South Florida again with deliveries early next week.
“The Knox Medical cultivation facility in Winter Garden and dispensaries around the state suffered minimal damage from Hurricane Irma. As of today, all four of Knox Medical’s dispensaries are open and welcoming patients on the Medical Marijuana Use registry,” a spokesman said. “The corporate headquarters in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood did sustain damage and loss of power; however, a temporary call center has been established and patients are encouraged to reach us at 888-441-KNOX for more information.”