Sunburn Cannabis opens its doors in Jacksonville
The first of a planned wave of renewed medical marijuana retail sites in Florida has opened in Jacksonville Beach.
Sunburn Cannabis opened its fifth Florida store on Saturday in Jacksonville Beach, and the company's CEO says another is set for the New Year at a prominent retail corner in Five Points.
The latest store, at 308 3rd St., is three blocks off the beach, marked with a bright orange and black logo over the door. Offering marijuana in smokeable and chewable forms to those with an active state medical marijuana card, the offerings are shelved on wood-grain walls with a pool table and couches nearby.
By January, Sunburn CEO Brady Cobb says its second Jacksonville operation should open on an equally busy Park Street corner that was home to a MedMen marijuana retail site until Cobb's company bought all of that California-based company's Florida holdings. Since the former MedMen site is in an area full of restaurants, bars and retail and blocks from the St. Johns River, it should be "a key store" for the company, Cobb said.
"MedMen sited stores really well; they got them in high traffic areas where people are normally going anyway," Cobb said. "We see a lot of dispensaries these days that are kind off of the beaten path, in shopping centers. So we are really excited because two core tenants for us is to be on the water and play it loud. So we love live music and all things on the water, so that site fits the bill on both of them."
Medical marijuana and low-THC cannabis is available in Florida for qualified patients, with more information online from the Florida Department of Health's Office of Medical Marijuana Use. To purchase and be in possession of medical marijuana, patients and their caregivers must have an active medical marijuana card. They also must submit an application annually to maintain the card.
Brady Cobb is the son of the late Clyde Wilton "Bill" Cobb, who was one of 25 people arrested in 1983 in Florida for marijuana smuggling during what the DEA called "Operation Sunburn." His son had operated Florida's OnePlant medical marijuana dispensaries, then sold them off about a year ago. Now he has started a new company called Green Sentry, which purchased all the Florida assets of MedMen in late August for $63 million.
Those 14 former MedMen sites needed a new name, so he reached back into his father's past.
"He was ahead of his time, a big cannabis smuggler, primarily from the Caribbean to Columbia through Cuba and into North Florida," Cobb said. "Very much, the name sunburn hearkens back to his long and rich history with everything on the water, with cannabis, with smuggling and kind of leans into that mystique and our own kind of natural Florida history with the plant."
MedMen started opening its sites in 2017, Cobb said. Now his company is "slowly flipping" them, starting with Jacksonville Beach as well as sites in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Tallahassee and Sarasota. Other stores set for openings soon are on San Jose Boulevard in Jacksonville, plus others in Key West, Deerfield Beach, Orlando and St. Petersburg, among others.
While some experts predict an economic recession, Cobb says what are called vice industries like gambling, alcohol sales and now cannabis traditionally do well in times of economic downturns. So Sunburn sees its business succeeding if a recession occurs.
"Maybe you can't take that massive vacation, buy that boat or buy the big things, but you still have the indulgences: the nice glass of wine, the craft six-pack of beer and, in our case, cannabis," he said. "Instead of doing a big renovation of your house, you do a lot more time on personal beauty items, which is what you saw during the last recession when a lot of those beauty stocks did well. In 2008, alcohol did great in the last recession we had."
Florida law says medical marijuana retailers must grow the products they sell,
So Sunburn's $63 million purchase includes a valid medical marijuana treatment center license issued by the state as well as MedMen's cultivation and processing facility in Eustis. Sunburn's cultivation and operations team began working on upgrades to the Eustis Facility in March, seeking improvement in flower quality and yields.
Green Sentry also intends to break ground on an initial 75,000-square-foot indoor garden and processing facility at its property in Palm City, with plans to be fully operational by late 2023.