Wednesday, January 17, 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
5 things we learned about Trump from his medical checkup

5 things we learned about Trump from his medical checkup

Five things we learned about President Donald Trump from Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, the doctor who oversaw Trump’s first medical checkup in office. SLEEP Trump doesn’t get much shut-eye. Jackson guessed that Trump snoozes four to five hours a nig...
Updated: 10 hours ago
A century after the 1918 pandemic, science takes its best shot at flu

A century after the 1918 pandemic, science takes its best shot at flu

WASHINGTON — The descriptions are haunting. Some victims felt fine in the morning and were dead by night. Faces turned blue as patients coughed up blood. Stacked bodies outnumbered coffins. A century after one of history’s most catastrophic disease o...
Published: 01/17/18
A popular school fundraiser is just ‘junk-food marketing to kids,’ experts say

A popular school fundraiser is just ‘junk-food marketing to kids,’ experts say

For 43 years, schoolkids and their parents have clipped the labels from cookie bags and cracker boxes as part of a popular rewards program called Labels for Education.Through this and similar programs — think Tyson’s Project A+ or General Mills’ Box ...
Published: 01/17/18
Pinellas is at the center of a rise in Florida flu outbreaks

Pinellas is at the center of a rise in Florida flu outbreaks

Feeling a little sniffly or scratchy or stuffed up? It may be the flu, and you don’t want to wait around to see a doctor this year. This is not the time to write off flu-like symptoms, Tampa Bay area health officials and doctors warn. The influenza v...
Published: 01/16/18

CDC says ‘There’s lots of flu in lots of places.’ And it’s not going away anytime soon.

A nasty flu season is in full swing across the United States, with a sharp increase in the number of older people and young children being hospitalized, federal health officials said Friday.The latest weekly data from the Centers for Disease Control ...
Published: 01/12/18
Mease Countryside Hospital begins $156M expansion project

Mease Countryside Hospital begins $156M expansion project

SAFETY HARBOR — Mease Countryside Hospital is launching a $156 million expansion to build a four-story patient tower with all private rooms and a four-story parking garage.The tower will include 70 private patient rooms, a 30-bed observation unit, cr...
Published: 01/11/18
Flu shot? This is why you should still get one this year

Flu shot? This is why you should still get one this year

This year’s flu season is shaping up to be a bad one. Much of the country endured a bitterly cold stretch, causing more people to be crowded together inside. The strain that has been most pervasive, H3N2, is nastier than most. And, we’re being told, ...
Published: 01/11/18
He was 21 and fit. He tried to push through the flu — and it killed him.

He was 21 and fit. He tried to push through the flu — and it killed him.

Kyler Baughman seemed to be the face of fitness. The 21-year-old aspiring personal trainer filled his Facebook page with photos of himself riding motorbikes and lifting weights. He once posted an image of a kettlebell with a skeleton, reading: "Cros...
Published: 01/11/18
Serena Williams tells scary story of childbirth complications

Serena Williams tells scary story of childbirth complications

The image on the cover of the February issue of Vogue features Serena Williams proudly showing off her adorable daughter.The story she tells of the changes wrought on her life by the arrival of Alexis Olympia, whom she calls by her middle name and ...
Published: 01/11/18
‘Pregnancy centers’ draw scrutiny as lawmakers seek to elevate their status

‘Pregnancy centers’ draw scrutiny as lawmakers seek to elevate their status

Annie Filkowski used to see the signs during her drive to school each morning. "Free pregnancy tests," they said.So when she feared she might be pregnant at 16, shortly after starting to have sex with her boyfriend, she remembered them. And walked in...
Published: 01/10/18
Updated: 01/12/18