Altmed Opens Cannabis Sales in Hometown Dispensary

Todays News


It’s been four years since Sarasota company AltMed got into the business of selling cannabis, even though for years the company could not do so in its home state. So it was an exciting moment on Friday when the company opened a new dispensary on Fruitville Road.

“Being about to open our first location in Sarasota, albeit the second one in Florida, is especially important to us,” says Todd Beckwith, Altmed marketing director.

The new business feels as much like an Apple Store as a pharmacy, and certainly doesn’t look much like the seedy strip mall dispensaries in California that made communities around the nation wince at proposals for legal medical cannabis. In the sleek trappings of a retail store, employees educate consumers about the legitimate ailments treatable by marijuana. Vaporizer technology sits on display while consultants meet with patients in private rooms. Per Florida law, nobody can buy the pharmaceutical product here without a prescription from a medical doctor, and every employee must pass a Level 2 background check by the FBI.

It’s been a road to get here, Beckwith says. The company first formed in 2014, anticipating Florida voters to pass a constitutional amendment legalizing medical cannabis then, but when the measure failed, the business ended up launching its first line of products in Arizona instead. At least by the time voters here successfully amended the state constitution, the company had worked out finer points of its business model and developed the award-winning MÜV line of products.

Florida law says companies selling medical cannabis can only sell what they grow, so, along the way, Altmed has partnered with Plants of Ruskin in Apollo Beach, with the Sarasota business people specializing in moving product and the farm dedicated to producing supply. The first Altmed dispensary in Florida actually opened in Apollo Beach, near the indoor cultivation center where all Altmed product originates.

There have been more hoops than expected, but Beckwith says Altmed has rolled with the challenges. “We choose to focus on what we can control, and that’s on our research and development,” he says.

The company does prepare for easing of regulations in the future. A pending court case could soon allow for smokable marijuana, not just extracts, to be sold, and Altmed promises to bring high-quality product already market-tested out of state. 

Of course, the company will never use the term marijuana, and Beckwith only ever calls it cannabis. “Marijuana is a slang term created to put a negative concept during to Reefer Madness days to make it sound foreign,” he says.

The company ultimately plans to open a total of 25 dispensaries in Florida, the maximum allowed for a licensee. The company just got licensed to do business in Colorado and has its eye on 12 other states and five other countries allowing medical cannabis to be sold.

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