"Legal Medical Cannabis" for Sale in South Florida

The man on the corner of North Miami Avenue and 24th Street in Miami didn’t say much, but he didn’t have to. His sign did the talking. “Legal Medical Cannabis,” it said, and it pointed straight to NugBrand, a weed-themed apparel shop in Wynwood.

Inside, employee Kevin Machin let curious passersby down easy. No, the store wasn’t selling the potent medical marijuana you might find in a dispensary in California. It wasn't even peddling the low-THC “Charlotte’s Web” strain recently made legal in Florida.

Instead, NugBrand sells a hemp extract called cannabidiol, or CBD, which research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests may offer the medicinal benefits of pot without getting users high.

“THC has all the psychoactive properties of marijuana,” Machin explains. “CBD is like its little brother. It has none of the psychoactive effects but has the benefits of pain relief, stress relief, and anxiety relief.”

In the half hour I spent at NugBrand, Machin repeats this explanation to seven different people lured into the store by the “Legal Medical Cannabis” sign out front. There were middle-aged tourists, solitary 20-somethings, and a dad with his small child.

Machin says he’s served at least 10 senior citizens recently. They increasingly seem to be catching on to NugBrand, where they go to buy things like CBD-infused tea to replace pain or sleeping pills.

It’s tough to imagine an abuelita stepping into the graffitied storefront, passing the indoor halfpipe where shirtless men play games of “skate.” She would have to make herself heard over the blaring hip-hop to order CBD capsules to add to her collection of morning medications. But Machin says it’s true, and it's a sign that more and more people are buying into the “cannabis culture.”
“It’s just starting to get some light shed on it,” Machin says. “People only looked at cannabis for one simple thing, and that was getting high. But there’s nothing like this plant [when it comes] to all the benefits and uses for it.”

Machin says NugBrand sells something for everyone: CBD-laced snacks like brownies, gummies, and goldfish; waxes and oils for vapes and rigs; and even CBD-infused coffee grounds. Prices range from $5 for the cheapest orally administered oil to $300 for a 10-gram syringe of highly filtered CBD extract.

Machin says that if Florida votes to legalize medical marijuana this November, NugBrand owner Alejandro Sosa will lobby to make his shop one of the first dispensaries in Miami. In the meantime, Machin will keep explaining the benefits of cannabidiol to curious customers expecting to buy weed out of a storefront.

“Is it just CBD?” one woman asks after looking over the merchandise in the display case at the counter.

“Yeah,” Machin replies, skipping his standard CBD speech.

“Until November,” the woman suggested, with a hint of optimism in her voice.

Machin whooped. “Until November, baby!”
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Nicolás Rivero
Contact: Nicolás Rivero