Florida approves 5 growers of medical marijuana

FOX 35 News at 10 p.m.

- Medical marijuana is coming to Central Florida. The state has selected five nurseries across Florida to grow and distribute a weak form of cannabis, and a nursery in Winter Garden will distribute it for our area.  Knox Nursery in Winter Garden will distribute Charlotte's Web to help children with seizures and patients with advanced cancer. 

This is a story of hope for a mom who is relieved that help is finally on the way for her daughter.  Ten-year-old Taylor Merriam has autism and epilepsy.  At her worst times, mom Theresa Merriam says her daughter can experience five to 15 seizures per week.  She says getting medical care for her daughter has been tough.  "It has been a long road, because we've tried countless drugs and nothing has worked."

Taylor started having seizures when she was three years old.   "They were scary.  I don't know that there is anything more scary than watching your child gasp for air or stop breathing."  

Now, she is relieved to learn Florida is moving ahead with Charlotte's Web, giving the five nurseries the green light to become distributors.  Charlotte's Web is a liquid form of cannabis, low in the tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical which makes people high.  Taylor's mom admits her views on medical marijuana have evolved.  "A few years ago, the thought of marijuana alone for anybody, I thought was kind of crazy."  But now, "Charlotte's Web could just be everything, it could save her life."

Knox Nursery in Winter Garden is one of 28 Florida nurseries that applied to become a Charlotte's Web distributor.  Knox Nursery has been family owned in Orange County since 1971.   Bruce Knox is president of the nursery.  He tells FOX 35 that he just learned about the state's decision shortly before the media on Monday, so he is not ready to talk about it in detail.  He did say the medical marijuana will be grown at the Winter Garden location and added that his investors are confident they will put up the $5 million performance bond the state requires. 

The other four nurseries selected include: Chestnut Hill Tree Farm in Alachua for the Northeast region, Hackney Nursery in Greensboro for the Northwest region, Alpha Foliage in Homestead for the Southwest region, and Costa Farms of Goulds for the South region.The Florida Department of Health is requiring the new distributors to request cultivation authority within 75 days.  The state wants them to start growing medical marijuana by June of 2016.  

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