The Apple Store of Weed
Last weekend I was in California.
I was catching up with an old college friend who had moved out west almost a decade ago. First stop was LA.
My buddy in LA is a visual effects artist. He’s the man (along with his team) behind all the crazy visual effects we see in the biggest Hollywood blockbusters and groundbreaking video games.
He’s also quite famous in the Tesla circle oddly enough… But that’s not why I’m telling you about my trip today…
Overall, the weekend was filled with activity: hiking, eating, drinking and more.
And of course those who have been to LA know one of the best side trips is to the Santa Monica Pier.
The sunset was indescribable. And after a few local microbrews and bacon-wrapped hot dogs (with green and red chilies, I might add) from a local street vendor, we popped over to another famous locale.
Rodeo Drive… With a Bohemian Twist
That’s the best way to describe the famous shopping avenue in Santa Monica, Abbot Kinney.
It’s boutique and premium shopping all wrapped in one, with a very Jack Kerouac vibe…
And then I saw it. It was like the Apple store of weed.
They even had the same red customer-service shirts on as the reps I saw at an Apple store later that weekend.
After scanning my ID and giving the “doorman” my email — for 10% off my first purchase — I entered MedMen.
A friendly smile greeted me as I entered: “Hi, welcome to MedMen. What can I interest you in today?”
The sheer number of cannabis products on sale was mind blowing. And the quality of presentation was the furthest from the shady back-alley dispensary one might expect.
You could tell immediately that this company has big-time financial backing.
The staff was incredibly knowledgeable too, walking me through the various effects and uses of each of their products. MedMen has gone through some issues on its executive board. Earlier this year a number of top execs left the company. You wouldn’t know that as a customer in one of their stores however. MedMen checks all the boxes for an enjoyable, informative experience.
Even the boutique-like bag they packed my friend’s purchase in was a touch of class only the Apple store of weed could offer.
But my journey wasn’t done there. It was off to San Diego.
Small-Time Operation, Big-Time Profits
Golden State Greens is off the beaten path, tucked away in a small building behind a music studio, custom wood furniture shops and other commercial industries.
As I pushed open the heavy metal door, a large tattooed security guard waved a metal detector across me. Not setting off any alarms, I was allowed to head to reception, where a young woman (wearing black latex gloves) checked my ID and placed me on the waiting list.
Golden State was no MedMen, at least in aesthetics… The old cramped building and overt security presence gave the place a very different vibe… at first.
“Ray Blanco…” I heard someone call. I looked up and saw a younger gentleman in his 30s scanning the waiting room.
It was my personal cannabis concierge. As we walked into the showroom I was greeted with the pungent and citrus smells of a cannabis cornucopia. There were clones, flower products, oils and waxes. There were pre-rolled joints, ingestibles (edibles and beverages), you name it.
I didn’t plan on making any purchases but I wanted to get the full experience, so I played the part…
“I have a flight tomorrow,” I told my concierge, “and I would like to sleep for most of it.” The back-alley vibe I had was gone by this point.
According to my concierge, indica sativa blends work the best for that, so I bought a pre-rolled joint of OG Kush.
I took one whiff and thought, I bet I’ll never sleep better on a flight in my life.
The Big Takeaway
I don’t just tell this story today to entertain you. There are some important insights that can be taken from these experiences.
For one thing, even if we never, ever get the Washington, D.C., swamp monsters to sign a bill legalizing marijuana, it won’t stop the industry at this point.
Cannabis use is so common and accepted it is only a matter of time before all 50 states go green.
That’s because there is so much money in it. And everyone from your municipality’s office to the massive Los Angeles county government is going to want a cut of the action.
Another big thing I noticed is all the unique ways these products are packaged. Like any prescription medicine or mind-altering substance has childproof packaging, so do these marijuana products.
And some of the designs are simply ingenious. I bet the days of the old orange prescription pill bottle are numbered. Another pick-and-shovel play for us is in the making.
This industry provides jobs. A lot of them. There must have been 30 people staffing MedMen on Abbot Kinney and even about a dozen staffers at the tiny Golden State Greens.
Maybe the pot industry is why jobs data were so great this year?
Bottom line: Despite some obvious issues which we’ve covered before here, California’s legal weed economy is huge, and it’s only getting bigger and more accepted socially.
And along with this continued growth in positive sentiment will come plenty of pot profits, too.
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