Behind the scenes: The making of medical marijuana in Florida

As questions linger, cultivation is in full bloom
Posted at 4:17 PM, Jan 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-03 17:47:12-05
Inside Surterra Therapeutics Tallahassee warehouse where medical cannabis is cultivated and processed.

Medical marijuana is officially legal in the Sunshine State. But while questions linger as to how Florida will regulate legal cannabis, Katie LaGrone takes you behind the scenes and beneath the soil, giving you an all access pass of one company's operation, from seed to sale.

Katie LaGrone with Surterra's lead grower James Chapman


We can’t tell you exactly where in Tallahassee, just that we got off a rocky road some 10 miles due east of the State Capitol building.

Outside and inside the 6,000 square foot facility, security is as round the clock as what’s growing amid its protection.

“Every door has a lock,” explained James Chapman, lead planter for Surterra Therapeutics.  The company is one of six dispensing organizations state-approved to turn marijuana roots into medicinal buds that are harvested, dried and extracted for oils.  

Cannabis buds grown by Surterra
LaGrone with a Surterra chemist

The oils from the buds is the medicine for qualifying patients, like Jaci Jagodzinksi, whose 18-year-old body, we witnessed, is in a constant battle with seizures.

“This is an easy one,” her mom Lisa explained as a seizure struck Jaci while she was sitting in a wheelchair during our visit with her.

“There is no warning, she just falls,” her mom said while describing the “drop seizures,” that also effect Jaci.

“If we can take those away I can deal with all the other seizures,” Lisa said.  Recently, Lisa decided to give cannabis drops a chance.

“As a mom, I have to open every door,” she said.

"As a mom, I have to open every door," said Lisa Jagodzinski whose 18-year-old daughter suffers from intense daily seizures.

Jaci is currently among 1300 patients eligible for medical marijuana in Florida.  Patients looking to get a dose of cannabis must meet certain criteria and suffer from a debilitating disease like cancer, epilepsy, and HIV or AIDS.

Despite overwhelming voter approval in November, medical marijuana’s biggest hurdle likely rests with Florida lawmakers tasked with revising its rules and implementing its regulation.


Six dispensing companies are approved to cultivate, process and dispense medical cannabis in FL.


CHT Medical in Alachua County


The Green Solution in Alachua County


Trulieve in Gadsden County


Surterra Therapeutics in Hillsborough County


Modern Health Concepts in Miami-Dade County


Knox Medical in Orange County



FL Senator Dana Young (R-Tampa) leads the health committee that will help determine if medical marijuana should be expanded.  The committee held its first meeting on the issue right before the holidays.

“I’m taking it very seriously,” said Young.  “My goal is to implement the will of the voter,” she said.

"My goal is to implement the will of the vote," FL Senator Dana Young (R-Tamp)

Lawmakers have until October to fine-tune the details of medical marijuana.

By 2020, Florida’s stake in the industry is expected to reach the billions.

Those already in the weeds, remain cautiously optimistic about its success as a drug and Florida’s willingness to be its biggest dealer



Jaci Jagodzinski, taking medical marijuana for seizures