As we’ve touched on before, most Florida Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs) are doing a fantastic job provided patient access considering the hostile state-regulated environment they’ve had to deal with for the past 2 years. That all finally looks to be changing as the first domino towards widespread, affordable patient access came today (January 4) as Judge Karen Gievers became the second judge to rule that the current limit on the amount of dispensaries an MMTC can open is unconstitutional. With an increasing likelihood that similar results will come from next Tuesday’s trial on the smoking ban, it appears that the foundation is being set for Florida’s cannabis market to explode this year. With this impending growth comes an important question: How can Florida MMTCs optimize their operations to truly serve Florida cannabis patients, all while keeping their business successful and profitable? We’ve been watching the trends over the past year, and a few key issues stand out. We believe if the Florida cannabis businesses can improve on these items, they will see a lucrative year ahead, and the patients will experience the benefits firsthand in more widely available and more affordable products.
1.) Focus on full-spectrum products and keep them in stock
If watching the various Florida Trees subreddits in 2018 taught us one thing, it’s that patients love their full-spectrum products: flower, shatter, crumble, terpene (terp) sauce have been the most widely desired products this past year, and consequently have been some of the most difficult to consistently acquire – particularly shatter (we still haven’t gotten to try any). We’ve seen the research that proves cannabinoids like THC and CBD work much better together than individually; this phenomenon has been dubbed the “entourage effect” – and patients love it. We saw that patients really did not particularly enjoy food-grade terpenes and vape carts cut with MCT Oil. It’s our belief that the most lucrative market involves making full-spectrum products and products with cannabis-derived terpenes much more widely available. Other products have their value, of course, but it seems that the real medicinal benefits (and potential for profit) lie within the natural products like flower, shatter, crumble, etc.
2.) Train employees to be more knowledgable and professional
More often than not, the MMTC employees get it right. They’re knowledgable. They’re friendly. They help you get in and out (or deliver) as quickly as possible. However, we’ve seen plenty of Reddit users with experiences that weren’t so stellar: mainly unknowledgeable or unprofessional employees. We at FMCC believe that every MMTC employee should at least have a basic knowledge of cannabis and its different cannabinoids and be able to effectively communicate that with the assumption that the patient they are talking to has absolutely zero knowledge of cannabis or its medicinal benefits. Professionalism is key as well; I’ve gotten more than one call center employee from various MMTCs that spoke in a way that definitely did not leaving me feeling that I had experienced superior customer service or that the employee truly cared to assist me as a patient. In a patient-centric business, employees need to be able to act with empathy, compassion, and understanding in all facets of the business. This means being educated on cannabis and always projecting that when doing business or assisting their customers.
3.) More reliable Delivery and Phone/Online Ordering
We’ve seen all too many patients complain of inconsistencies in the ordering process, particularly with respect to online ordering and how accurate its product stock is for a given location. Some patients don’t even use the online ordering system for their local dispensary because, according to them, it is never reliable or accurate and never guarantees an order. We’ve personally seen some websites that aren’t set up to be the most user-friendly. This needs to be addressed somehow: get a consistent system that keeps online ordering and in-store or phone ordering on the same page with product availability and order placement. Patients should be able to log on to a site for any given dispensary and be confident that what they are seeing in stock is in fact currently stocked at that physical location. The whole system needs to be looked at from a fresh perspective and great care should be taken to ensure the process is as effective as possible from the patient’s perspective.
5.) Don’t Forget about the Panhandle
We get it: state regulations and licensing caps cause so many problems for MMTCs that are beyond the scope of most patients. Dispensaries have to be opened in places that will show a return on the investment, more so because of all the regulations in place. However, 2018 was a disappointing year for variety in the Panhandle. Places like Pensacola only have access to 2 or 3 dispensaries when there are over a dozen MMTCs opening dispensaries all throughout the state. South Florida obviously has some of the highest population density, so naturally we expect them to see the bulk of dispensary openings, but many MMTCs seem to have completely neglected Northwest, North Central, and Northeast Florida during 2018. We hope to see this change as court rulings continue to be in favor of the cannabis market and its patients. Though most MMTCs do offer statewide delivery, it simply isn’t the same as going into a physical brick-and-mortar store for some patients. Hopefully the Panhandle will have a much wider variety to choose from when 2019 is over – we’re pulling for it!
We expect continued (possibly explosive) growth of Florida’s cannabis market this year, and hope the MMTCs are truly listening to what the patients have to say. It can make all the difference in future business!
As always, thank you for your time reading our content; we genuinely hope it has been to the benefit of at least one patient.
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