SEBASTIAN - Sebastian got its first medical cannabis dispensary with the Jan. 25 opening of AltMed MÜV Sebastian.

The new store at 1701 U.S. 1 is Indian River County’s second dispensary. A different company, Trulieve, operates a dispensary at 1814 Commerce Ave. in Vero Beach.

Todd Beckwith, Director of Corporate Affairs for AltMed, told Hometown News that Sebastian was chosen for a variety of reasons.

“Sebastian alone has several thousand medical cannabis patients,” Mr. Beckwith said. “The state of Florida has over 300,000 medical cannabis patients. Sebastian allows us to serve areas north like Melbourne, Palm Bay, and south into Winter Beach and Vero Beach. We also already have patients coming to us from Fellsmere to the west.”

At the grand opening, people from all those areas attended.

“We want to thank Sebastian for the warm welcome they gave us and the amazing turnout that exceeded all of our expectations at our grand opening,” Mr. Beckwith said. “Nearly 400 people came by that day. We didn’t anticipate that large a turnout. It was amazing.”

The U.S. 1 location was chosen with accessibility in mind. AltMed doesn’t want their dispensaries hidden in out of the way industrial areas. Instead, they seek to become active, visible members of each community they enter.

“It’s like the old shopping mall retail model, where you have an anchor store and it helps all the other businesses,” Mr. Beckwith said. “Part of our mission is to bring cannabis out of the shadows and into the spotlight as a legitimate means of relief for patients, and that means being transparent about what we’re doing.”

Many patients “want to be able to do everything at once when they’re out of the house. So we have the easy access on U.S. 1, in a safe area, a nice community, and we’ve seen that a lot of the businesses that are around us, our patients are also consumers for them. As our business grows, it helps the businesses and community around us.”

The drive to legitimize cannabis includes the deliberate use of the word “cannabis” instead of “marijuana.”

“Cannabis is the real name. Marijuana is a term that was coined during the prohibition of cannabis, and is deemed by many to be somewhat derogatory. So, as we’re driven by science, we prefer to use the appropriate term, cannabis. It’s all about legitimizing cannabis, so we use the proper name.”

MÜV dispensaries offer a wide range of products including flower, pre-rolls, vaporizer pens, metered dose inhalers, topicals, oral sprays, tinctures, transdermal patches and gels.

The store is designed to have the feel of an Apple Store, with a modern, open-concept design and knowledgeable staff with extensive training.

“You’d be surprised if you went into one of our dispensaries to see the wide range of age, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds of our patients,” Mr. Beckwith said, noting that 71% of Floridians voted for the amendment to allow medical marijuana. “I guarantee, in your own church and your own synagogue, there are probably patients there right now.”

“From the community to the government in Sebastian, they were very welcoming, very receptive, very helpful throughout the process, and we’re very thankful for that.”

“We introduce ourselves to our neighbors and invite them to come by and see how we operate. We’ve invited law enforcement and county commissioners to come by. Let’s answer all your questions and make sure you know how we operate, so you can feel comfortable with us being part of the community. We tend to be active members in chambers of commerce, we help sponsor civic events, and it’s all part of an overall mission to legitimize medical cannabis by how we operate, making sure people understand how it really works, all the checks and balances and compliance that goes into it.”

Mr. Beckwith added that the company hires more than a dozen people in every community where they open a store, with full time benefits and competitive wages.

The Sebastian location and all other AltMed Florida dispensaries are supplied by a 200,000-square-foot cultivation facility in Apollo Beach, between Tampa and Sarasota.

“All of our product is grown indoors, where we control the growing environment for optimum output,” Mr. Beckwith said. “We also have our own in-house lab, with a team of PhD chemists doing research and development on our products.”

“We’re a Florida company, we’re a mom-and-pop business. We’re all Floridians. Our first two dispensaries were in the towns of our executives, Apollo Beach and Sarasota. That’s part of us being transparent; we wanted this in our own hometowns.”

Later this spring, AltMed will be opening in Port St. Lucie, one of 20 new locations planned in 2020. With the state adding 2,500 new medical cannabis patients every week, AltMed hopes to have a dispensary in every part of the state to serve the booming market.

The AltMed Florida MÜV Dispensary is located at 1701 US 1, Sebastian. Delivery is available within a 25 mile radius. Patients may order online for express pickup or delivery.

For more information including the process for getting approval to use the dispensary, hours, products, and real-time inventory, visit www.muvfl.com or call (833) 880-5420.

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