AltMed to Plant Florida Market Seeds

Health

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY AUG 7, 2017

A Sarasota-based company that professionally cultivates marijuana will finally have growing operations in its home state. AltMed Enterprises has teamed up with Hillsborough County-based Plants of Ruskin, a company that already has growing facilities ready to use in Apollo Beach. Company leaders expect to soon open dispensaries throughout the state, including on the Gulf Coast, in early 2018.

“This company was founded with the intent of serving Florida patients,” says Todd Beckwith, marketing director for AltMed. “To be one of the first entries to this market, we believe we have a competitive advantage.”

AltMed was founded in anticipation of voters in 2014 passing a constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana for medicinal use, but a ballot measure that year earned just 57.6 percent of the vote, short of the 60-percent threshold needed to amend Florida’s constitution. The Sarasota company responded by moving its planned operations to Arizona, where voters approved medical marijuana in 2010, and became one of the lead providers of the drug in that state. When Florida voters in 2016 approved a new medical marijuana referendum with 71.3 percent level of support, the company turned its eye on business in its home state.

As Florida lawmakers and health administration officials prepared new rules, AltMed tailored its business strategy here accordingly. Florida this year will issue a total of 17 licenses initially to companies, who each must be able to cultivate, manufacture and dispense product. AltMed is one of nine medical marijuana treatment center licensees in the state thus far.

The drug, still classified as an illegal narcotic under federal law, cannot be shipped across state lines, so Arizona cultivation centers cannot provide products to dispensaries here. AltMed’s partnership with Plants of Ruskin allows the company to quickly get into cultivation at an existing 150,000-square-foot facility already zoned for the proper use. Plants of Ruskin has operated as a nursery since 1979. “We plan to rapidly begin production and distribution of a comprehensive portfolio of medical cannabis products to meet the needs of Florida patients,” says John Tipton, Plants of Ruskin CEO.

AltMed Enterprises and Plants of Ruskin will operate the Florida cultivation center as AltMed Florida.

“Through years of research and the diligent efforts of our experts we have developed a pipeline of next-generation medical cannabis products to meet the unique needs of each patient,” says AltMed Enterprises CEO Michael Smullen. In Arizona, the company earned awards for its extraction process, an important distinction as Florida law doesn’t allow for medical marijuana to be smoked. Beck with says the MüV product line of cannabis-infused products will be one of the chief assets in the Sunshine state.

Plants of Ruskin secured its cultivating license on Aug. 1 and awaits an inspection to start doing business sometime this month. Meanwhile, AltMed will have to ability to open 25 dispensaries in the state of Florida, and has started scouting locations.  Since no wholesaling deals will be allowed between companies, only products cultivated and manufactured at the Apollo Beach facility will be initially available.

Screencap from AltMed Enterprises promotional video for Arizona cultivation center.

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