Seidman: The case for medical marijuana lies in the stories behind the ‘brand’

Seidman: The case for medical marijuana lies in the stories behind the ‘brand’

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Shiny packaging at Sarasota’s newest dispensary isn’t as persuasive as tales of the people who need its products I have seen the future of the marijuana industry. And it looks a lot like … an Apple store. Last week, prior to its grand opening, I got a tour of Sarasota’s newest dispensary of medical marijuana — or, as the AltMed Florida folks prefer to call it, “cannabis infused products.” Operating within a small strip mall on Fruitville Road, the elegantly spare space is all gleaming white hard surfaces, minimalist furniture, light box displays of “product” and perfectly positioned bursts of verdant plants (not the kind you’re thinking). Lined up on a shelf were items for “swag bags” to be given to opening day customers — swanky ball caps, water bottles, can cozies and pens. There also was an in-store ATM, because there is no such thing as insurance coverage for a substance still illegal under federal law. No free samples either, even for journalists; every customer has to have been qualified by a physician and have in hand a card with a number that’s checked against a state database on every visit. To one side was a discreet private “consultation” room for those in need of assistance to determine which of the “portfolio of delivery methods” they’d prefer. And AltMed — which is Sarasota-based but has been operating in Arizona for the past four years while waiting for Florida legalization and licensing — has an “extensive entourage” of options to choose from. There are “cannabis-infused topicals” (gels, creams and lotions), “smoke-free” inhalers, transdermal patches, tinctures and oral sprays and “vaping products” in an assortment of flavors, from Grape Ape to Sour Tsunami. Director of marketing Todd Beckwith wasn’t wearing a white lab coat, but when I asked him about […]

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