By Kristen Hernandez 

Circle K Mockup
Circle K’s New Marijuana Initiative

Not so strange things are afoot at ten Circle K locations throughout Florida. Green Thumb Industries has partnered with mega-convenience store chain, Circle K, to open Rise Express Medical Marijuana Dispensaries at select gas stations sometime in 2023. The Express model will work just like a regular Medical Marijuana Dispensary, requiring a valid state issued Medical Marijuana Card.  

It’s slated to be a “test and learn rollout phase” beginning with 10 chosen stores, which have yet to be announced. The Villij News has reached out to GTI for comment and has not gotten a response as of press time. 

Rise Express will be adjacent to Circle K stores and will have its own entrance. Through this exclusive agreement, Green Thumb Industries, a Chicago-based cannabis company, can lease space from Circle K at various locations in Florida. The Rise Express stores will offer patients a selection of cannabis products, including the branded RYTHM premium flower, Dogwalkers pre-rolls, Incredible Gummies, and Shine vapes. 

The herb will be produced at a brand-new cultivation facility in Ocala. Green Thumb currently produces their marijuana products in Homestead which serves the existing South Florida Rise locations. “The opening of RISE Express stores at Circle K locations is a game-changer. Convenience is a strong channel in retail, and people want more access to cannabis,” said Green Thumb Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ben Kovler. “The new RISE Express model is a huge step forward in making it easier and more efficient for patients to purchase high-quality cannabis as part of their everyday routine when stopping by their local convenience store.”   

There is sure to be political pushback. “I was shocked when I first heard about it,” said Kevin Sabet, CEO of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, or SAM, a political organization opposed to marijuana legalization. “The idea that we want to make it easier for a 22-year-old with a headache, who has a medical card, to get marijuana while filling up on gas and about to drive really makes no sense,” said Sabet. “I was surprised they would even entertain the idea of essentially encouraging stoned driving.” 

Current medical marijuana patient, Patrick Gonzalez, felt differently. “Most [medical marijuana] dispensaries like Trulieve and Curaleaf are all located either across from, close to, or even next to gas stations. The idea of having two-store shopping at one location makes me very happy,” said Patrick.  

Green Thumb Industries announced a 25% increase in their revenue during the last quarter of 2022 and shows no signs of coming down from that high.  

Circle K and marijuana fit together as perfectly as Bill and Ted. The Rise Express test concept rolls out in 2023 and it should be a most Triumphant Adventure. 

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