PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Need weed? Well if you do, there's a sign on Back Beach Road near the Exxon gas station by the Publix grocery store that reads call the number listed to set up an office visit for a fee of $199.
"Legal Weed" and "Need Weed" signs have popped up in Bay County. We called the number and after being asked if we were over the age of 18, if we were a Florida resident, and if we suffer from a chronic illness or everyday disability that is medically diagnosed, we were then connected with a representative with the compliance department of an organization called the Florida Compassionate Use.
The representative told us thanks to the signs, they're receiving a lot of calls.
"We're finding out more about the signs as people are calling in and saying, 'Hey, I saw a sign here,' or 'Hey, I saw a sign there.' We figured out people are putting signs up that say free weed which is a little difficult to swallow on our end because you can imagine how many people are calling in saying, 'I want free weed,' which really isn't what it is. It's medical marijuana," said a representative named Jessie. He wouldn't give us his last name.
An Exxon employee was not happy the sign was so close to his place of work. He doesn't want people to get the wrong idea.
"I would think they think I'm selling something inside the store, which we're not. I would have to call that number and ask them to come and get their sign," said Andrew Peipert, a cashier at Exxon.
The representative from the Florida Compassionate Use told us that after you give them your zip code they will put you in touch with a doctor close to you. Again, for a fee of $199, and that's just to start the membership process, not to actually receive any marijuana.
According to the Medical Marijuana Treatment Clinics of Florida, this is all a scam. Their marketing coordinator reached out to us and told us that these signs are encouraging people to fall for the scam. They went on to tell us that they can't find out who is responsible for the signs, but they seem to be everywhere. They hope whoever is putting up the signs will be fined and shut down.
"From what we can tell, the group behind the signs arrange to get your driver's license and credit card information, then tell you you're registered with the state of Florida. There are quite a few more steps than that to getting an actual medical marijuana card, including but not limited to building a three-month relationship with a specially trained physician, being diagnosed with a qualifying condition by at least two doctors, filling out and filing paperwork with the state for registration, and obtaining a prescription—which can then only be filled at one of the seven legal dispensaries in Florida. I wanted to warn you about the scam personally, and encourage you to spread the word that calling the number is unsafe and ineffective, and that police are actively trying to stop it," said Emily Jones, marketing coordinator of Medical Marijuana Treatment Clinics of Florida.