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APOLLO BEACH: Medical marijuana dispensary opens

Published on: July 3, 2018

AltMed opens its first dispensary for medical marijuana in Apollo Beach

By YVETTE C. HAMMETT

AltMed of Florida, which began growing medical marijuana in an old tomato packing plant on U.S. 41 this past fall, has now opened its first dispensary next door.

AltMed cut the ribbon on June 23 for its first dispensary on U.S. 41 in Apollo Beach next to the growing operation where they are producing hundreds of pounds of medical marijuana each week. Pictured from left: AltMed CEO John Tipton; Glenn Dickman, Plants of Ruskin; and AltMed Cofounder and Executive Chairman Mike Smullen. Anyone with a state-issued prescription card can go to the dispensary to get various forms of medical marijuana.
YVETTE C. HAMMETT PHOTOS

Customers lined up immediately after a ceremonial ribbon-cutting June 23 to fill prescriptions for high-grade medical marijuana in forms from vaping liquids, to creams and gels.

Andrew Gunderson, who was first in line, drove over from Lakeland because, he said, he’d done his research and believes what AltMed is selling is a higher-grade medication than some other distributors.

“I went online and went over everything. I want to do the transdermal patches, but today, I’m getting vaping supplies,” Gunderson said. The name for the variety marijuana products he purchased is Tangerine Kush.

“I’ve got lower-back pain, herniated and bulging discs, stomach issues and I’m bipolar and manic depressive,” he explained. “I’m only 35 and was taking 14 pills a day.” Now, he said, since using medical marijuana, he’s down to six pills per day. He said he has built up a knowledge of recipes and concentrates sold by various manufacturers, but decided to go with MUV, AltMed’s brand.

Randall Kiser said he suffers from a sleep disorder and has anxiety. “I knew once I could get medical marijuana, I could also stop drinking, and I did,” he said. “I use some in the day and different kinds at night.” Having a dispensary a short distance from his house, he said, has made the whole experience much easier.

AltMed is one of only 25 license-holders in the state that can grow and distribute medical marijuana. It is licensed to open 25 dispensaries and this one was the first. Other dispensaries should be online within months, including one in Sarasota and one in Tampa, said AltMed Marketing Director Todd Beckwith.

“We have seven flowering rooms, and we are harvesting seven days a week,” Beckwith said. He said the company uses a genetics program to harvest extract that has anywhere from 28 percent to 32 percent THC, with 35 percent being the highest concentration that can be extracted from marijuana.

Not every doctor can prescribe medical marijuana. They must first take a certification course, give a patient a prescription and enter them in the state database.

Randall Kiser of Apollo Beach waited to get his prescription filled for medical marijuana during the grand opening of the AltMed MUV dispensary on U.S. 41 in Apollo Beach.

The Department of Health then emails the patient an ID to use until their official medical marijuana prescription card comes in the mail.

The company, which started business several years ago in Arizona, using the same brand name, MUV, is rehabilitating 150,000 square feet at the old tomato-packing plant for its grow farm.

Each room in the hydroponic farm is filled with long metal grow tables. There is a special watering system for the plants and high-tech lighting above to grow the plants in a controlled environment.

This medical marijuana farm has been years in the making, Smullen said as he prepared to cut the ribbon on the dispensary. “This has been in the works since 2014 and represents a culmination of efforts to bring medical cannabis that is different and better than anything out there.”

Among the better-known varieties of cannabis the company is growing are O.G. Cush, the Chem Dog family and Sour Diesel. The company started every plant from seed to learn which strains would produce the best in Florida. AltMed now clones those plants to continue the operation.

The MUV dispensary at 5909 U.S. Hwy 41 N., Apollo Beach, is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

To learn more about MUV products, visit https://muvproducts.com/.

AltMed is now selling medical marijuana daily at its dispensary on U.S. 41 in Apollo Beach. The extract from the plants’ flowers is sold under the brand name MUV for vaping, as a healing cream and in other forms.
YVETTE C. HAMMETT PHOTO

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