Marijuana Clinics are opening in Tampa Bay where patients can walk-in without an appointment to see a doctor that could prescribe a medical marijuana card to people with qualifying conditions. Medical marijuana is just starting here in Florida and many residents may be confused about how getting a medical marijuana card works in the state of Florida. Doctors may also be unsure of the steps they need to take to become certified with the state of Florida in order to prescribe medical marijuana.
The Office of Medical Marijuana Use is the division of the Florida Department of Health that is charged with implementing state rules concerning medical marijuana and overseeing those rules, as well as being assigned other tasks. Rules are likely to change over time, especially considering the state is already being sued by multiple parties for banning smoking. Have you found out yet what the qualifying conditions to receive a medical marijuana card are here in Florida?
Similar to a walk-in urgent care center, Tetra Health Care is a place where patients can see a licensed doctor about obtaining medical marijuana as a form of treatment.
Tracilea Young, president and founder of the California-based chain of clinics, saw an opportunity to expand in Florida after the most recent round of legislation passed in Tallahassee earlier this year. She’s opened six Tetra Health Care clinics in Florida so far. Five of those are in the Tampa Bay area, including St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa and Brandon locations. She plans to open 20 more across the state by next year.
“With such a high population of aging communities, medical marijuana is needed here,” Young said. “You wouldn’t believe the patients we see who come in here with Excel spreadsheets detailing all the medications they’re on and when they take which pill. I just want to cry for them.”
Medical marijuana is a new but burgeoning industry in Florida, with laws that change nearly every year. Lawmakers have limited the selling and growing of marijuana to seven companies, but that number will expand to 17 this year, based on last-minute legislation that came out of a special session in Tallahassee earlier in this summer.
“Florida is the No. 1 state in terms of attracting marijuana companies right now,” said Pete Sessa, chief operating officer and co-founder of the Florida Cannabis Coalition. “It’s the newest medical marijuana state. A lot of these companies want to expand and Florida is a natural next step for a lot of them.”
Young sees a business opportunity in being the intermediary between the Florida Department of Health and the companies licensed to grow and sell cannabis in the state. Tetra physicians will write the necessary “recommendations” (doctors aren’t allowed to call it prescriptions) for patients to fill at statewide dispensaries. Tetra charges $198 for the service.
Potential patients shouldn’t expect to walk into a Tetra Health Care center and walk out with a doggie bag of weed. It doesn’t work that way. Patients need to bring a valid Florida I.D., and proof of residency in the state for either a walk-in or appointment. Staff walks potential patients through the criteria required by department of health to help them register as a patient. Once an applicant pays the $75 state fee and receives their registration I.D. card in the mail, they can go to a dispensary with the recommendation they receive from a Tetra physician to fill an order.
While Tetra isn’t affiliated with any statewide dispensing company and patients can fill their orders at any dispensary, Young has been impressed with some more than others.
“Knox Medical and CHT are all doing a great job with customer care,” she said.
Young, 51, opened the first Tetra Health Care clinic in her home state of California in 2015 after she watched the father of her eight children suffer through stage four throat cancer.