OKEECHOBEE — After his store, Sunshine Vape and Coffee, was robbed last weekend, Daniel Meara decided he wanted to speak out about it and warn other business owners to be more careful. “It was a wake up call for me,” he said. “The boys who did it did it so nonchalantly, like it was nothing.”
Although he already had cameras, Meara is investing in more cameras so no area is left unprotected. He has added more locks and a new door. “We really beefed up security. It will be much harder the next time someone decides to break in.”
“We lost between $15,000 and $20,000,” he said. “The kids came in here twice within a two-hour period.” The first time they went in, they stole two backpacks filled with merchandise. They left those bags by Labor Finders and came back for more. While they were gone, the first two backpacks were taken by someone else. If anyone has any information about those bags, please contact the Okeechobee City Police Department and ask for Detective James Pickering. The second time the boys broke in, they filled a large duffle bag and another backpack.
“The funniest part to all of us was that one of the boys stole a bong shaped like — let’s just say a particular part of the male anatomy. Then when the cops found him, he told them his therapist gave it to him! That’s some therapist!”
Meara opened his store in 2018 on Parrot Avenue near Walmart. Now, the store is across the road from Burger King next to ABC Liquor. When he opened, his goal was to assist people who might be helped by CBD to learn about the compound’s medicinal value and to try to benefit from it. The store also offers weak nicotine vapes and vaping juices, plus CBD-infused smokeable herbs, for folks trying to avoid or quit smoking tobacco. And they have a number of flavored coffees available, plus offer espressos.
At a shop like theirs, a customer doesn’t have to possess a state-issued medical marijuana (MMJ) user license to buy CBD-infused products, including edibles like gummies and candies, honeys, essential oils, vape juices, CBD-oil tincture and others, because the derivative they contain is taken from the hemp plant. It is a legally cultivated, non-psychoactive relative of the cannabis sativa and indica plants from which all medicinal THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is extracted.
In Florida, vendors of CBD products taken from hemp oil can and do legally sell the supplement in many places, including convenience stores, drugstores, essential-oils shops, online or even from a trailer they tow around town. All of those products are non-psychoactive, containing less than 0.3 percent THC. All the ones that contain any higher concentrations are available only from licensed MMJ dispensaries.
Although Meara was not happy at all about the robbery, he was thankful it was not worse. “They could have vandalized the store as well,” he said. “We could have ended up starting all over. All we are asking for now is for the community to continue supporting us. Stop in and check out our new cafe or grab a cup of coffee."
Chris Felker contributed to this story.