Republican stronghold The Villages gets medical marijuana dispensary

In the strange-bedfellows category, medical marijuana firm Trulieve said it will open a cannabis dispensary Tuesday in the Republican stronghold of The Villages.

In the Reefer Madness era, conservatives despised pot. These days, they like it just fine: Fully 61.9 percent of voters in Sumter County (home of The Villages) said yes to Amendment 2 in November. Overall, weed won in a landslide thanks to support from the white, rural voters who gave Florida to President Donald Trump.

The Villages, a fast-growing retirement community in Central Florida, is a regular stop for Republican politicians on the campaign trail and book-signing tours.

Among Florida’s new breed of cannabis businesses, Trulieve has been expanding the most aggressively. The company grows marijuana at a facility near Tallahassee, and it operates dispensaries in Clearwater, Miami, Pensacola, Tallahassee and Tampa.

Many municipalities have temporarily barred marijuana dispensaries. For example, Palm Beach County this year passed a one-year moratorium on pot shops.

Brick-and-mortar locations might not be that important, however. Trulieve also makes deliveries statewide to patients in the state’s marijuana programs.

Even as state lawmakers and regulators negotiate rules for Amendment 2, the medical marijuana measure passed last year, Florida already allows patients to use low-THC weed with a doctor’s permission. And patients suffering from terminal diseases can use full-THC pot.

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