Pubdate: Mon, 02 Apr 2018
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2018 Los Angeles Times
Author: Gary Robbins


Three months after recreational marijuana went on sale in California,
San Diego retailers say business has been brisk and the customer base
diverse, including older people who use a private shuttle bus to reach
one dispensary.

"There's been a change in the culture," said Will Senn, who operates
two Urbn Leaf marijuana stores in San Diego and is about to open a

"Cannabis is becoming more accepted. Now that adult-use marijuana is
legal, people are giving it a try. The average age of our customers
has gone from about 40 to about 50."

One of his stores is pulling in about 1,000 customers a day, a figure
that would probably be higher if parking was more plentiful.

No one is sure exactly how much marijuana is being sold; the state
says that it will be May before it releases figures for the first
three months of the year.

But analysts indicate that marijuana sales for that period could
surpass $1 billion statewide. And it appears that many of the
California cities and counties that outlawed the sale of marijuana are
going to change their mind, including some in San Diego County.

Pot sales are generating a lot of tax revenue. There have been
comparatively few problems associated with adult-use cannabis, making
it a less volatile subject politically.

And public acceptance of marijuana continues to grow -- something that
was evident in February when an unnamed Girl Scout began selling
cookies near a marijuana store in San Diego's Bay Park

The girl sold 312 boxes of cookies in two days, a story that went
viral when it hit social media. Some people were outraged. But the
story mostly generated jokes, and praise for the Girl Scout's business

The story soon died, even though a few more Girl Scouts later showed
up to cash in on the munchie madness.

Rocky Goyal agrees with Senn that a cultural shift is going on.

"Three months in, the sky is not falling," said Goyal, who operates
the Apothekare marijuana store in Mission Valley.

"Motorists aren't getting into higher rates of accidents. Children
aren't dropping dead at school. We're seeing a lot of older people
coming out to give this a shot."

That doesn't mean he believes that everyone is embracing the use of

"A Girl Scout wanted to sell cookies outside my store," Goyal said. "I
told her, 'Absolutely not. America isn't ready for that.'"

There's reason for caution. The full effect of recreational marijuana
sales isn't known.

UC San Diego Health says that it has not experienced a spike in
patients who consume too much marijuana. Police are not seeing large
numbers of cannabis delivery workers being robbed. And the California
Highway Patrol hasn't issued public statements saying that adult-use
marijuana has led to a statewide surge in accidents.

But it's still early. These institutions are just beginning to
understand how the freer flow of marijuana is affecting society.

There's already confusion about whether the sale of recreational
marijuana has affected the demand for black market cannabis.

"The overall biggest surprise is that there is not enough supply to
meet the legal market demand," said Dallin Young, executive director
of the Assn. for Cannabis Professionals in San Diego.

"We have seen that many consumers would prefer to visit a licensed
retail location, but because of the lack of licenses for additional
dispensaries and the rest of the supply chain, many consumers are
being forced into the black market."

San Diego police say they have not witnessed a rise in black market
marijuana sales.

One thing is clear: The legal sale, cultivation and distribution of
marijuana is going to become more widespread in San Diego County.

Oceanside officials decided Wednesday that it will allow for the
commercial cultivation of medical marijuana, a plan strongly supported
by local farmers. Chula Vista is preparing for the sale, cultivation
and manufacture of cannabis. And La Mesa and Lemon Grove are clearing
the way for licensed medical marijuana shops. La Mesa's first shop
will open in July.

It's also possible that the San Diego County Board of Supervisors
might be forced to change its ban on the sale of marijuana in
unincorporated areas.

The local cannabis industry is pushing to elect candidates in two
supervisorial districts who are pro-pot.

"Adult-use cannabis is here to stay and local governments, both cities
and counties, would be foolish to ignore or attempt to countermand
this," said Lincoln Fish, chief executive of Outco, a wholesaler that
cultivates cannabis and sells medical marijuana at a site near El Cajon.
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