First cannabis retail store in Merced County celebrates its grand opening. – Merced Sun-Star

The first retail cannabis store in Merced County celebrates its grand opening

Medallion Wellness celebrated its grand opening at its new Atwater location on Saturday. It becomes the first retail cannabis store to open up in Merced County.

Medallion Wellness celebrated its grand opening at its new Atwater location on Saturday. It becomes the first retail cannabis store to open up in Merced County.

The first retail cannabis store opened in Merced County on Saturday.

Close to 200 people flocked to Medallion Wellness in Atwater within the first two hours after the store opened Saturday morning, according owner Michael O’Leary.

It’s O’Leary’s second cannabis store. He opened a Medallion Wellness in Modesto in 2016 and plans to open one in Merced on 16th Street in January.

O’Leary, 50, says Merced County has been waiting for a store like this.

“Today what we’ve learned is people were driving to Ceres and Modesto to go to my shop or someone else’s shop,” O’Leary said.

O’Leary’s new store in Atwater, which is located at 341 Business Park Way just off of Highway 99, features a variety of items including edibles, beverages, flowers, pre-rolled joints, waxes and vape pens and cartridges.

Merced resident Bill Barger, 68, says he’s been waiting for 50 years for a store like this.

“I feel like a kid in a candy store,” Barger said. “It’s something I always pictured and it’s here now. I’ve never seen this much of this stuff in one place. In the old days, you’d have to find a person and then you had to buy whatever they had.”

O’Leary was born in Merced and raised in Modesto. He’s been around cannabis for most of his life.

“My dad was allergic to most medication,” he said. “Cannabis was the one thing he used. I’ve seen what cannabis can do for people.”

O’Leary said his original plans were to open stores in Modesto, Turlock, Atwater, Merced and possibly in Fresno in the future. However, things fell through in Turlock so he’s proceeded with his stores in Atwater and Merced.

“Everything is falling into place,” he said. “We’ve found that Atwater is very business friendly.”

“The city of Atwater is pleased to welcome Medallion Wellness as a new community business partner, and wish them success,” said Atwater City Manager Lori Waterman in a press release.

When customers come into the store they will first enter a lobby where they will have to sign-in. You have to become a member to shop at Medallion Wellness.

The memberships are free, but to become a member you have to show a copy of your I.D. to prove you are at least 21 years old. After signing in, members are then allowed to enter the store.

The store features over 130 strains of marijuana flowers. “We’re proud of that because it’s hard to get that many strains at this time of year,” O’Leary said. “We keep a variety of flowers.”

O’Leary says the store will also begin home delivery of items in just over two weeks.

Medallion Wellness’ regular store hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

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