Those of us who spent the 1990s and early aughts running around San Marco can attest to the vast changes that historic neighborhood has undergone, and more are coming every day. Occupancy on the main strip—and up and down the feeder streets—is at an all-time high, populated mostly by small- to medium-sized businesses. A couple of corporate eateries augment the classic destinations that we all associate with the neighborhood. Want more? Several new residential developments are in the works.
The latest addition to the area is AltMed Florida's MUV Medical Cannabis Dispensary, at 1550 Hendricks Ave., Ste. 4 (right next to Hightide Burrito Company—how convenient!). The sixth branch of this Sarasota-based cannabis dispensary chain opened to much fanfare on June 8. It’s the company’s first Northeast Florida site, but certainly not the last; at least two more are planned for the next year, among the 15 spots slated statewide. I was given an exclusive tour of the facility the day before it opened. (When I got there, workers were finishing installating some vitally important equipment: an ATM.)
The franchise started well after most of its competitors, but it’s quickly risen to fourth place in terms of market share. “It starts and ends with our R&D approach,” Todd Beckwith told Folio Weekly. Beckwith is the company’s global director of marketing. After Amendment 2 failed in 2014, AltMed chose to launch first in Arizona (where it supplies half of that state’s dispensaries), and then move in on Florida in 2017. “We’re completing expansion of our cultivation and operations facility,” said Beckwith, one of several executives who drove up to oversee the launch. “By next month, we’ll have 28 flower rooms going, and we’ll be harvesting every two and a half days.”
“Location, location, location,” as the saying goes, so setting up in San Marco was an easy call. “We’re ecstatic about how well we’ve been accepted in this community,” he said, “from the other business owners to the community at large.” It took an easy seven figures to get ready. They could’ve spent less elsewhere, but they feel the cost is worth it. “We want to be in nice neighborhoods,” he explained. “We want to be near other destination shopping. A lot of older customers have trouble getting out of the house, so we want to make sure that when they do come to visit us, they can do everything else they need to do. They’re coming to a nice part of town, they’re near major thoroughfares. All of that goes into the equation.”
AltMed offers nine different delivery methods: vape oil, gels, inhalers, shatter, transdermal patches, lotions/creams, tinctures, capsules and flower, with a number of strains in regular rotation. Which is best? According to Beckwith, there’s no need to choose just one: “As patients become more knowledgeable in the use of cannabis, they realize that regimens of stacking different products at different times of day provide the optimal outcomes, in terms of overall health.”
The new store opens in the midst of big changes for the state’s cannabis scene, and the AltMed team is on top of recent developments. “For some, we’re the best choice,” said Beckwith. “For others, we’re the safest choice. And for some, we’re the only choice.”
The choice, as they say, is yours.