Green Thumb Inks Deal with Circle K in Florida

Green Thumb Inks Deal with Circle K in Florida

The multistate cannabis operator signs a deal to sell medical marijuana at Florida gas stations.



According to a recent report, Green Thumb Industries (GTI), one of the largest multistate cannabis operators in the U.S. and headquartered in Chicago, recently signed an agreement with Circle K enabling the THC company to lease space adjacent to the convenience-store chain’s Florida locations and open medical marijuana dispensaries.


In a statement, a representative for GTI explains that the plan is to start with a 10-store “test and learn” rollout in early 2023. GTI owns the Rise Dispensaries chain and will brand its Florida Circle K locations as Rise Express. The stores will sell THC flower, pre-rolls, vape cartridges and edibles.


The products sold at the Rise Express dispensaries will come from the 28-acre GTI cultivation facility in Ocala, FL, which should be up and running by the end of 2022.


Bethany Gomes, Managing Director at the Brightfield Group, a Chicago-based cannabis business analytics firm, shares, “This is a huge deal and, if successful, I think many will be looking to replicate this model as quickly as possible.”


"This is a huge deal and, if successful, I think many will be looking to replicate this model as quickly as possible.”

- Bethany Gomes, Managing Director at the Brightfield Group


With more than 700,000 medical marijuana cardholders in Florida (according to the state health department), this deal has the potential to be transformative not only in the Sunshine state but across the country as more and more states begin to legalize medical cannabis and adult-use programs.


Before purchasing, buyers must provide their medical marijuana card to obtain cannabis-infused products. In Florida, as in many other states with medical marijuana programs, citizens may acquire an MMJ card for conditions ranging from PTSD, cancer, Parkinson’s disease and many others.


Ben Kovler, GTI Founder and CEO, says, “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. This exclusive agreement with Circle K is a tremendous milestone for Green Thumb and the first example of premium cannabis retail being offered in one of the largest convenience store chains in the country.”


"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. This exclusive agreement with Circle K is a tremendous milestone for Green Thumb and the first example of premium cannabis retail being offered in one of the largest convenience store chains in the country.”

- Ben Kovler, GTI Founder and CEO


Circle K’s parent company, Alimentation Couche-Tard (ACT), is based in Vancouver, British Columbia, and has more than 600 Florida locations. Last month ACT signed a similar agreement with Canadian cannabis retailer Fire & Flower, enabling them to open a THC retail store next to a Circle K location in Brampton, Ontario, under the Spark Perk’s brand.


Other states have also begun to pass innovative legislation allowing for new and creative avenues to provide their citizens with access to legal THC products.


For instance, this past May, Minnesota legislators passed a somewhat controversial yet groundbreaking state law allowing the sale of hemp-derived THC edibles in retail outlets such as grocery and convenience stores.


However, many experts do not see the GTI-Circle K deal as a portent of things to come for other states, at least not in the short term.


Maddie Scanlon, a Senior Insights Analyst at Brightfield, notes that similar partnerships could potentially develop in Florida. Still, replicating such models in other states could be considerably more difficult. According to Scanlon, one of the main reasons for this is Florida’s state regulations concerning cannabis.


Scanlon explains, “Florida’s market is extremely unique in that the people with licenses can open an unlimited amount of dispensaries, given they have the proper approval from the area they want to put it in.”


"Florida’s market is extremely unique in that the people with licenses can open an unlimited amount of dispensaries, given they have the proper approval from the area they want to put it in.”

- Maddie Scanlon, a Senior Insights Analyst at Brightfield


Another contributing factor making Florida uniquely suited for these types of small-store model arrangements is consumer convenience. According to a recent study by Brightfield, 52% of Florida cannabis consumers said that location is the most critical factor in deciding where they choose to shop for medical marijuana.


By comparison, only 21% of California cannabis consumers indicated that location was the top attribute for deciding on a preferred dispensary.


Regardless of how many other states follow suit in creating innovative and consumer-centric outlets for hemp-derived THC or marijuana products, this groundbreaking deal between GTI and Circle K will serve as a captivating and thought-provoking model for other aspiring THC companies to study.


November 8th is exactly two weeks away, and by the end of that pivotal election day, over 40 states could have legal medical marijuana programs established. Close to 25 states could also have legalized adult-use cannabis by day’s end. Even with significant regulatory hoops to jump through for many in those fresh fields of THC opportunities, the options for unique commercial arrangements to provide the consumer with easy-to-find and purchase cannabis products will only continue to brighten.


Nevertheless, the only way those possibilities can become realities is if citizens head to the polls and plant the seeds for future growth and expansion in the ever-evolving American THC tapestry.