Two years ago, Trulieve, the first licensed medical cannabis dispensing organization in Florida, opened its first store in Tallahassee. Fast forward to 2018, and the company has 20 stores in the state and expects to open another 10 by the end of January.
To what do they owe their success?
“Trulieve is unique in several ways; first, there’s our footprint, which puts a store within roughly an hour of most Florida residences,” explained Victoria Walker, Trulieve marketing and community relations. “While we offer delivery, that isn’t our patients’ preferred method; they want to develop a relationship with the store and its employees.
“We also offer a wide variety of products, because patients all have different preferences, and many people want a combination of products,” she added. “And we have great customer services; our call center is open seven days a week, and our employees are very patient-centric. We also have a 100 percent exchange policy; if a patient isn’t happy or the product isn’t working for them, we’ll swap it out.”
Creating Quality Products
Trulieve began growing medical cannabis as soon as they were licensed, and oversees every part of the process from seed to sale.
“Florida has done a good job of making sure that there is a safe and structured process from a quality assurance standpoint,” said Walker. “Plants at the baby stage are assigned a batch number, and everything that happens on their journey, from nutrients to water to harvesting and drying, is under that number. Everything is tracked.”
That process is done in coordination with third-party lab reports that assure that whatever form the product takes, whether capsules, tinctures, vaping cartridges or more, are also pure and safe.
“Patients can see a three-page lab report just by putting a batch number into our website,” said Walker. “This way, they can be sure that there are no pesticides or residual solvents, and that the product is free from mycotoxins.”
Trulieve grows more than 50 different strains of medical cannabis, and carries 125 different product lines, including many under brand names such as TruClear, TruShatter and TruFlower. “Having our own brand helps to build relationships with customers and provides them with a comfort level,” said Walker, adding that products are shipped twice weekly from the grow facility in Quincy, FL to each of the company’s stores.
Helping Patients Choose
In many cases, purchasing medical cannabis is a huge learning curve for patients, and Trulieve strives to make the process easier.
First-time patients can visit Trulieve’s website to see a list of preferred physicians, as well as to watch informational videos and see a list of the most commonly asked questions about medical cannabis. Once they’ve seen a doctor and been approved for a Medical Marijuana Use identification card, they can visit one of Trulieve’s stores for more advice.
“Some physicians are very specific about what they want patients to try; others are okay with the dispensary giving recommendations—we use the physicians’ orders as a starting point to determine how to guide them,” said Walker. “We talk to them about different strain varieties, the types of delivery methods—including onset time and how long it lasts in their systems—and what their preferences are; our goal is to fit the person’s lifestyle and provide the kind of relief they need.”
While there have been challenges along the way—including finding allowable real estate, getting new products out into the marketplace, and dealing with ever-evolving rules, Walker said that Trulieve will continue in its quest to expand.
“We feel that it is our responsibility to grow the business quickly,” she explained. “If we hadn’t pushed ourselves to grow our footprint and to increase our product line, there would be patients out there without access to the medicine that they need.
“It’s been two years, and we haven’t slowed down at all,” she added. “If we don’t help people find a natural alternative, then we aren’t fulfilling our mission.”
To learn more about Trulieve, as well as to see a list of store locations, visit www.Trulieve.com.