Friday, July 20, 2018
Health

Cannabis dispensary gets state approval, will open Tampa location

TAMPA — A new wellness center is scheduled to open this month near a number of hospitals around the University of South Florida.

It will sell cannabis.

Following approval Wednesday from the state Health Department, Surterra Therapeutics can proceed in the next week with plans to start home deliveries of a strain of medical marijuana low in THC, the chemical that causes a euphoric high. The company also can open a wellness center this month near USF.

The approval from the state was "a long time coming," said Monica Russell, a Surterra spokeswoman.

The 2014 law stipulating what products can be offered was designed to give patients with seizures and cancer the choice of using THC as a treatment.

Surterra has plans to sell higher-grade THC products in the future to a small segment of the population — terminally ill patients with a year or less to live — following a state law passed this year.

The Atlanta-based company hopes its location at 2554 E Fowler Ave. becomes a gathering place for families to make important health care decisions, Russell said. She likened its atmosphere to a kitchen table, saying it will be a stark contrast to dispensaries in states such as like Colorado and California.

Colorado law allows for retail marijuana use by people 21 or older and for those with debilitating health conditions to use it for medical reasons.

Qualifying patients can use medical marijuana in California, and voters there could legalize recreational use this November.

In Tampa, Russell said, "You won't see any marijuana leaves or Bob Marley posters."

From a center in Tallahassee, Surterra can deliver its products — including lotions, patches and pills — throughout the state, she said. Customers can buy supplies meant to last up to 45 days.

Without offering specific prices, Russell said Surterra's products will be comparable to those sold at dispensaries elsewhere.

"From the very beginning, we've always wanted to help patients in the state as best as we could," Russell said, "and that's finally coming to fruition."

One Tampa-based medical marijuana advocate, Moriah Barnhart, called Surterra's authorization "a huge step in the right direction."

Barnhart's 5-year-old daughter, Dahlia, has taken cannabis oil for most of the past three years to treat her aggressive brain cancer. It's worked "tremendously," Barnhart said.

For the many families in the Tampa Bay area who could use cannabis-based treatments, Barnhart said, Surterra will offer much-needed help.

"We're still in the fight that seems like a never-ending battle, but we're taking a moment to reflect and celebrate how far we've come," she said. "We really do need to just appreciate how far we've come."

Surterra, whose cultivation partner is Homestead-based Alpha Foliage, is one of six state-approved dispensing organizations, according to the state Health Department's website.

There are 90 physicians statewide as of Friday who have completed the education needed to recommend cannabis to patients, according to the department. Eight are in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

Florida voters this fall could approve expanded use of full-strength medical marijuana. Surterra has plans to meet potential growth in Florida's medical marijuana industry, Russell said.

"Our focus is on the medical component of cannabis," she said, "but we certainly support access to more patients."

Contact Samuel Howard at [email protected] or (813) 226-3373. Follow @SamuelHHoward.

Comments
When suicide threats come calling: ‘I try to make a connection.’

When suicide threats come calling: ‘I try to make a connection.’

TAMPA — At first glance, it’s a typical office with more than a dozen cubicles under florescent lights. The operators wear headsets and stare into computer screens, some tinkering with handheld toys, others browsing Facebook or chatting with colleagu...
Updated: 7 hours ago
In the few weeks before school starts, experts offer tips on getting ready mentally and physically

In the few weeks before school starts, experts offer tips on getting ready mentally and physically

By the second week of August, public schools will be back in session across the Tampa Bay area. That may seem far off, but sleep experts say now is when parents need to start easing the kids (and themselves) into those early wakeup routines. The foll...
Published: 07/20/18
Sarasota man dies from infectious bacteria after eating raw oysters

Sarasota man dies from infectious bacteria after eating raw oysters

A Sarasota man died of an infectious bacteria after eating raw oysters.The bacteria, called Vibrio vulnificus, is often associated with eating raw or under-cooked shellfish or entering into warm coastal waters with exposed wounds.The 71-year-old Sara...
Published: 07/18/18
Updated: 07/19/18
Soy, almond ‘milk’ don’t come from a cow, so they may soon be called ‘drinks’

Soy, almond ‘milk’ don’t come from a cow, so they may soon be called ‘drinks’

NEW YORK — Soy and almond drinks don’t come from cows, so regulators may soon ask them to stop calling themselves "milk." The Food and Drug Administration is signaling that it plans to start enforcing a federal standard that defines "milk" as coming ...
Published: 07/18/18
Florida nursing homes have enough staff, numbers show. But the state has shortages in other areas.

Florida nursing homes have enough staff, numbers show. But the state has shortages in other areas.

In most places across America, nursing homes are facing an acute shortage of workers to take care of the country’s growing population of aging and disabled patients. But not in Florida. A Kaiser Family Foundation report published this month found tha...
Published: 07/17/18
So far, so good. Doctors at Tampa General find success with a device that fights often-fatal aneurysms

So far, so good. Doctors at Tampa General find success with a device that fights often-fatal aneurysms

TAMPA — Dr. Murray Shames holds a flexible, lightweight tube as wide as two garden hoses pushed together in his office at Tampa General Hospital. The polyester tube, and its thinner fastening branches with metal wiring, will be attached inside someon...
Published: 07/13/18
Updated: 07/16/18
Sunday Conversation: Sherry Hoback looks to move Tampa Family Health Centers to the next level

Sunday Conversation: Sherry Hoback looks to move Tampa Family Health Centers to the next level

TAMPA — Taking over for an administrator who has run a company for almost 20 years can be daunting. • But Sherry Hoback prepared for some time to replace Charles Bottoms as CEO of the Tampa Family Health Centers, a non-profit organization that operat...
Published: 07/12/18
Updated: 07/15/18
How can City Hall improve our health? A new push in Pinellas hopes to show the way.

How can City Hall improve our health? A new push in Pinellas hopes to show the way.

The charitable organization that owns a 20 percent stake in St. Petersburg’s Bayfront Health hospital is working with local governments to improve the public’s health, part of a strategy to make a difference in new and often subtle ways. The Foundati...
Published: 07/11/18
Updated: 07/12/18
New York organ collection agency, nation’s second-largest, threatened with closure

New York organ collection agency, nation’s second-largest, threatened with closure

The government is threatening to close one of the country’s largest "organ procurement organizations" for poor performance, a rare move against a nonprofit group that collects kidneys, livers, hearts and other organs used in transplantation.In a lett...
Published: 07/11/18
Retirement communities turn their sights on a once-invisible group: LGBT seniors

Retirement communities turn their sights on a once-invisible group: LGBT seniors

In 2016, as Kenneth MacLean was about to turn 90 and was looking to move to a retirement community, he had a question for Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg, Maryland."I asked, ‘Would there be many gays here? Would gays be welcomed?’ " MacLean,...
Published: 07/09/18