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Florida dispensaries aim to 'normalize' medical marijuana

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Vials of cannabis-laced sprays, lotions and tinctures line display shelves a few steps from handbags specially designed to tote marijuana products. A stylish kitchenette and table is on the opposite side of this Surterra Wellness Center medical marijuana showroom, space used to host educational sessions on the merits of the drug — something legal only under very strict circumstances in Florida until Amendment 2 took effect last week. This 2,000-square-foot storefront, one of a handful of Florida dispensaries that have opened in recent months, looks more like a day spa lobby or high-end salon. Nothing about it evokes images of the seedy bong-filled pot shops of popular imagination. "I think it's great. You walk in and it's nice and clean," said Deanna Lolley of Riverview, who buys tinctures of cannabis-laced drops for her epileptic son. "To tell you the truth, I didn't know what to expect." More than 60 Florida communities have temporarily banned such centers, including Bonita Springs and Estero, fearing what such shops might bring with them. But others may soon welcome these potential big-revenue generators as state regulators dramatically expand access to the drug.

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