AltMed waiting for a better opportunity in Florida

AltMed waiting for a better opportunity

Posted on July 10, 2015 by John Hielscher

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AltMed LLC is located at 1451 Global Court in East Sarasota County.HERALD-TRIBUNE ARCHIVE / 2015 / THOMAS BENDER

SARASOTA COUNTY — Despite not bidding for one of the first licenses to produce medical marijuana in Florida, AltMed LLC says it will remain a player in the game.

AltMed decided against applying to become a state-approved dispenser of a non-euphoric cannabis because it offered a limited market for what would be a $3 million to $5 million investment, company co-chairman Michael Smullen said Friday.

The business opportunity was not a very good one,” Smullen said. “There will be a real good opportunity in the future with the expansion of the uses.”

Smullen said it was a “tough decision” for the Sarasota County start-up, which was disappointed when Florida voters failed to approve medical marijuana last November. AltMed has raised capital, hired key personnel and opened a facility here to process and package cannabis products.

Six commercial nurseries, including Tropiflora in southern Manatee County, applied for approval this week to cultivate and sell non-euphoric cannabis in the 11-county Southwest Florida region. Only one will be licensed.

With private investors, AltMed had to weigh the cost of entering a narrow market to grow, process and sell a medicinal oil that is used to treat children with intractable epilepsy and people with cancer.

Smullen said he also has recently learned that some parents of the treated children are saying the product works for a short period of time before the THC level needs to be increased, which is not allowed now under the Florida law.

He expects state lawmakers will address that issue in their next session, and he remains hopeful that voters will pass a constitutional amendment allowing full medical marijuana in 2016.

There really needs to be a broader opportunity for more patients to benefit, and a greater acceptance of what this plant really does,” he said.

AltMed will remain headquartered in Sarasota County and continue working in medical marijuana in Arizona and Colorado and possibly other states, he said.