Ever since he was 17, MichealShea has been addicted to learning about cannabis. He has spent the last few years networking and learning everything he can.
“Cannabis is my passion,” the 22-year-old Manatee County resident said.
Now the Braden River High School graduate is turning that passion into a business, starting Sunshine State Health Solutions, a medical cannabis company in Bradenton.
“In Florida, it’s about the people who really need it as medicine,” Shea said. “Here in Florida, there are a lot of people, especially older people, who need or could use cannabis to help with certain conditions.”
Shea, who was born in Boston, moved to Manatee County when he was 10. After graduating from high school, he worked on an organic chocolate farm in Maui before moving back to Florida in 2014 to work on the passage of Amendment 2. When it failed, Shea moved to South Park, Colo., where he worked in the cannabis industry at a medium-size cultivation facility before moving back in September to work to get Amendment 2 passed.
“I want to see it done right and really the only way in ensuring that is doing it myself,” said Shea, who is listed as the company’s manager with the state.
Sunshine State Health Solutions LLC was registered as a limited liability company with the state Nov. 9, a day after Amendment 2 passed.
The company is owned by Seachange Holdings LLC, which became active Jan. 6 and also has Shea as the registered agent, according to state records.
“Everything is really contingent on what the state does,” Shea said. “I plan on being primarily a cultivation company that grows, processes and packages and that will be distributing to retailers.”
The company will be seeking a Medical Cannabis Treatment Centers license to “commercially cultivate, process and distribute medical cannabis products ranging from raw flower to concentrates,” according to a news release.
Shea envisions one central greenhouse facility in east Manatee County that distributes to retailers in Florida.
“It’s a good location for a greenhouse,” he said. “The Tampa Bay area is the sunniest area in Florida and centrally located with some major highways for distribution.”
Since the state still has to put forth the rules in regard to medical marijuana in Florida, Shea said he hopes to break ground on the greenhouse facility sometime this fall. The initial facility would be 50,000 square feet and cost several million dollars with plans to grow into a “several hundred thousand square foot facility, eventually,” Shea said.
Once Shea raises about $100,000, which is necessary for the application and license, then he plans to go to a venture capital firm for the remaining funds.
“If we had the license, we will begin cultivating as soon as we can,” he said, adding that it will take three-and-a-half months from licensure to first harvest.
Both Manatee County and the city of Bradenton have enacted six-month medical marijuana moratoriums. Since medical marijuana is a land use not currently addressed in Manatee County codes, the temporary moratorium, which is similar to what other jurisdictions in the state are doing since Amendment 2 passed, gives the opportunity for the county to review all the laws, Fred Goodrich, a planner with Manatee County, said in December.
Shea said he doesn’t expect the moratorium to affect him.
“I’m not planning on starting a business right now, so it’s not going to affect me in the short term,” he said, adding that he plans to be part of the rule making process both locally and statewide.