LAKE WORTH —

Palm Beach County’s first medical marijuana dispensary opened Tuesday, and Steve Buchholz of Lake Worth was among the first customers.

GALLERY: Photos of the opening of Knox Medical, Palm Beach County’s first medical marijuana dispensary, in Lake Worth

Buchholz, 57, said he suffers from chronic knee pain stemming from a high school football injury 40 years ago.

“Every step I take every day is painful,” Buchholz said as he waited for Knox Medical’s new location in downtown Lake Worth to open.

Prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications don’t work especially well and cause side effects, he said, but cannabis relieves the pain of his arthritis.

“I can still actually function,” Buchholz said.

NEW: Florida’s pot patient count tops 50,000

As Florida’s budding cannabis industry takes root, Knox Medical’s Lake Worth dispensary is the first pot shop between Miami and Orlando. The store’s location reflects just how quickly marijuana has gone mainstream: It’s directly across the street from Lake Worth city hall, and it occupies a high-traffic location in a former bank branch.

More than 50,000 Floridians had won permission to buy cannabis through the state’s medical marijuana program as of Nov. 8, and pot’s popularity has surprised the expectations of even Jose Hidalgo, chief executive of Miami-based Knox Medical.

“I always say the speed of cannabis is faster than the speed of light,” Hidalgo told reporters Tuesday as he showed off the new facility.

The white floors and postmodern lines at Knox Medical’s dispensary are reminscent of an Apple store. It’s brightly lit, and security cameras are everywhere.

For now, Knox Medical sells just eight products, although it plans to begin selling a ninth — a topical cream — next week. Its vape cartridges and liquid drops contain varying levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and cannabidiol, or CBD, two

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