California chain of medical marijuana clinics downsizing Florida operations – Tampabay.com
Florida’s first chain of walk-in clinics for medical marijuana treatment is closing most of them less than six months after opening.
Tetra Health Care, a California-based chain that hires licensed doctors to write medical marijuana recommendations at six clinics in Florida, is closing all but one to focus on working with state lawmakers to make access easier for patients, a spokeswoman said.
Tetra had five locations in the Tampa Bay area: two in Tampa and one each in St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Brandon. A sixth is in the Orlando area.
Now patients are being directed to one remaining center in Tampa, at 2814 W Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., for appointments and doctor recommendations.
Tetra said it will not reopen the former centers, but could open new ones in the future.
The company said recent changes to qualifying conditions as well as delays in issuing medical marijuana cards to patients are driving the clinic closures.
“Even though 72 percent of Florida residents voted yes for Amendment 2, there have been many challenges in providing our services to patients in need of medical marijuana,” Tanya Cielo, the spokeswoman for Tetra, said in an email. “Between the legislative actions that have changed qualifying conditions to the state’s delay in issuing medical cards to patients, medical providers like Tetra Health Care are facing serious roadblocks to providing compassionate patient care.”
But Ben Pollara, executive director of marijuana advocacy organization Florida for Care and one of the authors of the medical marijuana amendment, said those reasons didn’t ring true. Pollara, who had not heard of Tetra until speaking with a reporter Wednesday, said the state has “gigantically expanded” conditions that qualify patients for medical marijuana. And, he said, wait times for medical marijuana cards from the Department of Health have