Select Florida Circle K gas stations will look a little different starting next year. The company signed an agreement with Green Thumb Industries to open weed dispensaries adjacent to the convenience stores.
The two will start small with a “test and learn phase” in 2023 with approximately 10 Rise Express dispensaries opening. Green Thumb Industries wants to expand its medical retail footprint in the state, where Circle K operates about 600 locations. Florida has over 700,000 people active in the medical marijuana program.
Ben Kovler, Green Thumb Industries founder and CEO, called the agreement and Rise Express stores a “game-changer. He also said that it would make it easier “for patients to purchase high-quality cannabis as part of their everyday routine while stopping by their local convenience store.” The new Rise Express stores will sell various products, such as flower, pre-rolls, gummies, and vapes.
Selling marijuana remains illegal under US federal law; however, there’s been a successful effort to decriminalize it at the state level. Florida is one of several that allow it for medical use. It remains illegal in over a dozen states.
Green Thumb Industries, which has been operating in Florida since 2018 and is headquartered in Chicago, will source its product from its new Ocala cultivation center in the Sunshine State. The 28-acre facility will be in operation by the end of the year. The company operates across 15 US markets, including 17 manufacturing facilities and 77 retail locations, employing about 4,000 people.
This isn’t Circle K’s first foray into partnering with a cannabis company. In October last year, Circle K’s parent company, Alimentation Couche-Tard, signed a similar agreement with Fire and Flower cannabis retail stores in Canada. Alimentation Couche-Tard invested in Fire & Flower in 2019. The deal saw dispensaries open adjacent to the convenience stores.
Green Thumb Industries did not say what would come after the “learn and test phase.” However, if successful, it’ll likely expand across the state and, possibly, the country. The majority of US states now allow selling and consuming it.