Müv, a dispensary operated by AltMed Enterprises on Fruitville Road, displays no bongs or tie-dyed T-shirts—just brightly lit counters and digital displays showcasing its products. Eager staffers help customers figure out whether a tincture or a metered dose inhaler is the best treatment for their particular symptoms.
Müv’s sophisticated vibe reflects that of AltMed’s founder, Michael Smullen, a Lakewood Ranch resident. Dressed in slacks and a crisp button-down in AltMed’s headquarters inside Sarasota’s International Trade Center, Smullen formerly worked as an executive vice president at MedImmune, a Maryland-based research and development firm that was purchased by the multinational pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for $15.6 billion in 2007.
When he came out of retirement to launch AltMed in 2014, Smullen knew little about cannabis. “I had never been around marijuana,” he says. But he knew an opportunity when he saw one. Just months after Smullen formed AltMed, Florida voters approved a state ballot measure that allowed the use of medical marijuana. AltMed first began manufacturing its products in Arizona, where medical marijuana was legalized in 2010, then inked a deal with the company Plants of Ruskin to grow marijuana plants in a massive indoor grow facility located in Apollo Beach.
AltMed opened its first dispensary in Apollo Beach in June 2018 and was turning a profit six months later. The Sarasota location opened last August. By the end of 2020, Smullen expects to have 40 dispensaries open around the state and is predicting the company will take in $140 million in gross revenue. AltMed is also pursuing deals with companies to carry Müv products in other states and Europe. Even if marijuana is fully legalized at some point, Smullen believes AltMed’s extensive product line and intense research and development have positioned it to thrive. “We’re real pioneers,” Smullen says, “but we’re just scratching the surface of what this could really look like.”
AltMed operates 3.5 percent of Florida’s medical marijuana dispensaries, but has an 8 percent market share.
The company makes cannabis vape pens, transdermal patches, creams and inhalers and sells various cannabis flowers for smoking.
Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug by the U.S. government, which prevents any attempt to perform long-term clinical studies of its use as medicine.