Tampa – It’s been two years since Governor Rick Scott signed the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act into law, and patients are just now receiving the first medical marijuana doses.
One of those medical marijuana prescriptions was delivered Monday to Richard Murphy, a Bay Area man who suffers from seizures. His wife, Pam, is calling the little bottle of orange-flavored oral spray a game changer
“With this we’re hoping that within a couple of months he’ll be able to come off the eleven different medications that he takes,” said Pam Murphy
Two years ago her husband Richard suffered a traumatic brain injury and has since been plagued by seizures.
Before his accident, Pam says she was against medical marijuana. “I always taught my kids not to use drugs,” she said.
But when Richard’s neurologist, Dr. Lisa Avery, suggested medical cannabis, Pam says her mind began to change.
“This is non-euphoric,” said Pam. “He’s not going to get stoned from it,” Pam said.
The oral spray is made from extracts from the non-psychoactive part of the cannabis plant, known as CBD. Florida law limits the amount of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, to less than one percent. Doctors say this gives their patients the benefits of cannabis, without the high and without the side effects of commonly prescribed drugs.
“It has such a low side effect profile,” said Dr. Avery. “Not only will I be able to hopefully gain control of the seizures but hopefully reduce the other medications he’s on, which have so many more side effects.”
Pam says her husband’s laundry list of medications cause an unfortunate domino effect.
“You take one medication for seizures, then you take another because the seizure medication can cause depression, then you have to take another because of the side effects for that. Pretty soon it’s affecting your liver, your stomach, your sleep,” said Pam Murphy.
Surterra will open its first wellness center on Fowler Avenue in Tampa later this month. Patients like Murphy will be able to pick up their medical marijuana prescriptions, but controls on cannabis will be tight.
“If you’re not on the registry we cannot sell you product,” said Surterra president Susan Driscoll.
Under Florida law, medical marijuana can only be prescribed to patients with a terminal illness, cancer or conditions that cause seizures or severe muscle spasms. Doctors must take a course in order to be registered with the state before they can prescribe medical marijuana.
This November, voters will decide whether to legalize it for treating 10 specific diseases, including HIV, Parkinson’s, PTSD and Crohns.