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Growing a Community

When Green Source FL held its grand opening last month, owner Tony Burrows estimates that nearly 200 people came out for a day filled with family fun and warm introductions. 

It’s exactly the kind of positive response and promising turnout Burrows was hoping would greet Downtown Orlando’s new medical marijuana health center. 

“The purpose of the grand opening was to introduce ourselves to the community,” he says of the facility that’s “strategically placed to be within 20 minutes of anywhere in Orlando” and took two years to find.

The cannabis industry isn’t Burrows’ first career, but it’s always overlapped with the entertainment and entrepreneurial endeavors he’s previously undertaken. And it certainly suits his lifelong drive to bring people together. 

“I’m big on having a community,” he says. “I just like using my strengths of networking to bring people together in a communal sense.” 

Green Source FL is not a dispensary so it doesn’t have flower, edibles, concentrates or any other cannabis product available onsite. As a medical facility, its role is to conduct patient diagnoses and prescribe the strain or product best suited to their unique needs—for example, its physicians wouldn’t recommend a smokable product to a patient with respiratory issues.  

When Burrows met Dr. Michael Bekhit, the two quickly realized that they have more than a shared fondness for creating communities in common, and that they both regard cannabis as a medicine with vast potential for helping others. Dr. Bekhit is now one of Green Source FL’s physicians endeavoring to help the Central Florida community find relief for their symptoms through a prescription, which they can then take to the medical dispensaries a medical marijuana card grants them access to. 

“Patients qualify through a number of ways, and potentially any condition that causes pain or is a genetic condition qualifies you,” Dr. Bekhit says. “We as physicians can diagnose conditions, though it is a little bit of trial and error, since there are 450 molecules based on the genetic map, as well as your historical data.” 

According to Burrows, the additional benefit of having a Floridian medical marijuana card is some peace of mind, since “federally, it’s still a Schedule 1 narcotic.” By building a community around Green Source FL, Burrows hopes to both dispel the stubborn stigmas surrounding cannabis and its limited nationwide legality, which will ultimately help more people benefit from its medicinal properties. 

It’s also part of a growing movement to advance the “plants over pills” approach in the fight against opioid addiction—a health care battle that is near to Burrows’ heart, driving his personal investment in helping others overcome a potentially fatal dependency. 

“Myself, and I think a large percentage of Americans, can relate to the ongoing opioid crisis, whether it’s on a personal level or watching family members’ health—especially their mental health—deteriorate because of prescription pills, so I’ve always been interested in natural alternatives,” Burrows explains. “Cannabis is a natural medicine with such a wide range of properties that studies are now being done to prove its effectiveness in treating certain conditions, as well as the side effects of chemotherapy or from using opioids and other pharmacy prescriptions.”

“I saw how the medical community somewhat contributed to the opioid epidemic: 100,000 deaths every year, mainly caused by physicians prescribing those medications,” adds Dr. Bekhit. 

Dr. Bekhit notes that findings from all over the world indicate marijuana’s 6,000-year history of ceremonial and medicinal uses “and hasn’t killed anybody in that time.” Both he and Burrows explain how it’s increasingly embraced as a way to successfully manage the pain and relieve the symptoms of numerous chronic ailments and serious illnesses, like Crohn’s disease, ALS, cancers and chemotherapy, depression, anxiety, insomnia, neuropathic pain, and PTSD. 

“Since the ancient Egyptians, every society uninterrupted has used this plant,” he says. “Give something 6,000 years to evolve, and it’s usually for the better. Plus, the body recognizes it as something natural and presents no conflicts with other medications—it pretty much sells itself.”

Burrows already has his eyes on the future, with plans to offer the Oct. 14 Pots & Pans five-star culinary class led by renowned cannabis chef Travis Petersen, which he hopes will further illustrate marijuana’s positive qualities while eclipsing its unfairly negative image. 

Because, after all, it’s all about fostering the kind of togetherness that not only improves lives but builds a stronger community. 

“There’s no other clinic in Orlando that’s so focused on community—I’ve seen medical offices come and go, and I think they all benefitted from the community but never invested back into it,” Burrows affirms. “We’re not just building a brand: We’re building a community.” 

Green Source FL
210 S. Bumby Ave., Unit A, Orlando
(407) 374-3824‬