Aboard the Magic Bus: From OB To a Marijuana Superstore

by on February 9, 2018 · 8 comments

in Ocean Beach

Originally posted Feb. 9, 2018

by Joaquin Antique

I have seen the ganja future and its name is urbn leaf.  Whether it’s a dystopian future or paradise, I’ll let you decide.

You may have seen the bus driving around OB:  a newish big black air conditioned rig with a giant marijuana leaf logo and the words “urbn leaf” and “CannaBus” painted on its front and sides.

At first I wasn’t sure exactly what the bus was all about.  Was it like a Wine County or Craft Beer tour?  An ad for a new band or reggae club?  A party bus taking folks to concerts or other events?  Turns out urbn leaf is a dispensary and the bus is a service provided for potential customers.

It services Ocean Beach on the hour, from noon until 8 PM daily.  The bus picks up patrons at the OB Pier parking lot and drives them to and from the urbn leaf store, 15 minutes away.  There’s also a sister bus that drives a route from the Belmont Park roller coaster in Mission Beach to the dispensary.

Located on Buenos Street in Bay Park, urbn leaf is a recreational and medical dispensary recognized as legal by the city of San Diego.  It is one of about ten dispensaries that have been granted licenses by the city and state to sell recreational weed in San Diego City.

Although I usually get my Sativa from friends who grow their own, I occasionally buy it from the dispensary closest to Ocean Beach, Point Loma Greens, which is located over near the Sports Arena.  This time, I decided to check out urbn leaf, largely because of the bus.   As it turns out, the bus is more than just a way to get there.  It’s also a giant moving billboard for the business, trolling through the streets of OB, enticing innocent smokers with its stylized logo and party bus ambience.

What can I say, I bought into the marketing and so found myself and a companion headed to the foot of Newport for a little exploration in the land of hemp, circa 2018.

At the pier lot, we joined one other patron on the bus and had a nice conversation with our driver David as we made the short trip to Bay Park.  David said the bus isn’t usually crowded though one time he had twenty five passengers on board.  He said the passengers making the trip from OB are usually a mix of OB locals and tourists and he has met people from all over the United States, as well as from Holland, France, Brazil and South Africa.

David was a strong advocate of Mary Jane being available for adult use, though he said he’s never tried it and indeed can’t smoke because he is subject to random testing as a bus driver.  I asked him if we could smoke or vape some reefer on the bus on the way back and he said “sure”.

As we pulled up at urbn leaf, David explained that since we were bus passengers, we would be able to skip the line of customers inside the store so we could be back in time for the return to OB.  Security checked us out and we entered the shiny waiting room where our IDs were examined.  After a brief wait, we were then buzzed in to the actual store by the uniformed security guard.

It was definitely the biggest and glitziest dispensary I’ve ever seen.  Lots of chrome, glass, and packaged loco weed in a myriad of forms hanging from the walls and in display cases.  I counted 25 employees in distinctive black shirts busily serving several dozen customers who were awaiting their turns in a maze of stanchions and crowd control ropes of the kind you see in a bank or at a box office entrance.

We were treated as extra special VIPs and directed ahead of the ordinary, non-bus patrons who forlornly looked at us the way I look at the first class passengers boarding the plane ahead of me at Lindbergh.  The prices were typical for a modern California dispensary and the selection overwhelming.  Our bud tender, Brittany was knowledgeable and helpful.  She explained that the store has frequent specials and since we were there on a “Therapeutic Thursday” we would get a 20% discount on CBD product (medicines used for symptom management that do not contain THC, the psychoactive ingredient in wacky tabacky).

We completed our purchase and wandered around the store for a few minutes.  They had a separate register dedicated to urbn leaf hats, t-shirts and other products.  Apparently pot tourism is a big thing and a lot of those out of towners need an urbn leaf souvenir to complement the one they bought at Sea World.

All in all it was kind of cool.  I’ve mentioned in previous OB Rag articles about the future shock I’ve experienced as a life long smoker encountering California Cannabis in the Age of Legalization. I’ve spent almost fifty years looking over my shoulder for someone who might arrest me for possessing some leaves and flowers.

Then came the changes.   First medical use became legal  Then recreational was legalized on January 1st.  Then an official California Medical ID card.  Now billboard buses and reefer tourism.  Tubs of shrink wrapped packages of Indica flowers.  Wall racks that look like they belong in a 7-11 store, festooned with dozens of packaged forms of mind altering gummy bears, cookies, candy treats, and other comestibles.  It’s now all so convenient, all so accepted.

The nostalgic part of me is a little bummed by all the marketing, branding, and shiny big business model.  I remember times spent in coffee shops in Amsterdam, chatting up the locals and world travelers while smoking bowls in funky little places that had only half a dozen strains of seedless and a couple kinds of hash and the only edibles they had were two flavors of space cake made by some old Dutch hippie in her canal side home.

Nice smells, recycled wood walls, a cup of tea and smoke curling out of a borrowed water pipe. That’s what I’d like to see.  One of those on every block on Newport and Voltaire!  It’s not going to happen as long as our local government continues to treat it differently than much more harmful chemicals such as alcohol and tobacco and prevents small entrepreneurs from setting up their own artisinal bud outlets.  I guess our future will be filled with dispensaries that look more like the Apple Store than that Amsterdam dispensary.

The bus ride back to OB was uneventful.  As we cruised down Sunset Cliffs Blvd.,  I pulled out a pre-rolled joint that I had just purchased and patted myself down for a lighter.  Oops, nothing there.  I asked the driver if he had a light.  Nope.

I shrugged.  That’s why they call it dope.

(PS to editor dude:  See, I can write an article about herb and not repeat a synonym for the devil’s lettuce, even once!)

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Mercy Baron OB Mercy February 9, 2018 at 2:41 pm

I was looking forward to checking out this and other new dispensaries. Then I saw how much I’d be taxed….almost 30% and decided nope! I’ll just stick with my neighborhood dealer. Guess I’m still on the illegal side!

Reply

Joaquin Antique February 10, 2018 at 8:10 am

The “almost 30%” tax for recreational use IS stunning. Consisting of SD City tax (5%), State Sales Tax (7.5%) and State Excise Tax (15%) it totals out to 27.5% for recreational users. Those with a physician’s recommendation don’t have to pay the State Sales Tax and those with an official California Medical Marijuana ID don’t pay either the State or City Sales Taxes. Everyone pays the 15% Excise Tax, which at most dispensaries is not added on separately but is included in the price of the item. So when comparing prices with your non-licensed provider realize that a $100 purchase at a licensed dispensary already includes the $15 Excise Tax. If you engage in recreational chemistry, you’ll “only” pay $12.50 additional taxes on the purchase. An even more important issue to me is the question of pesticide use. Not licensed folks like your neighborhood dealer have no restrictions on selling untested weed. The dispensary is not necessarily safer, however, as they have been granted a six month to one year waiver before all their product need to be tested. More on this in a future article.

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Judy Swink February 10, 2018 at 10:41 am

Thank you for that additional explanation about taxes and fees.

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Dr. Jack Hammer February 9, 2018 at 4:38 pm

Get that eyesore out of here!!!!

It sits and idles and pollutes the area with unneeded diesel exhaust…

Get LOST!!

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Judy Swink February 9, 2018 at 4:41 pm

Point Loma Greens has been renamed Golden State Greens. It’s far smaller and less glitzy but easily accessible from the Midway area. Address is on Hancock St. but there’s parking around behind off the alley. (Just had my first visit recently, escorted by a regular client of the establishment). Yes, the tax rate is stunning but anyone who read even abstracted details from Prop. 64 could see this coming. As I recall, given the liberal allowance for future taxes, taxes could reach above 40% (if, of course, you don’t have an MMJ card).

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marc johnson February 10, 2018 at 4:04 pm

If the federal government legalize it the federal tax will alot.

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Jettyboy February 10, 2018 at 11:15 am

Nice article Joaquin, only one thing to add about, shit I forgot what I was gonna say. ;)

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sealintheSelkirks February 11, 2018 at 12:21 am

Cannabis legalization is NOT ABOUT CIVIL LIBERTIES. It’s about revenue for the militarized police security state through taxes imposed by the same governmental entities that for the last 100 years have been throwing people like you and me in cages (or outright murdering them), stealing everything they own (forfeiture), and then ostracizing from society for the rest of their lives as criminals.

If you can’t grow your own, it ain’t truly legal. If you have to have a Medical Card (like I do up here in Washington State) it ain’t truly legal.

Some of you get this concept. Screw the corporate and government rape of cannabis.

And don’t you love the term ‘bud tender?’ Reminds me somewhat like a Starbucks ‘barista’ or a Walmart ‘team member.’ Just another crappy low-paid no benefits service job. But it certainly is better than having to join the military due to the ‘economic draft’ that this country has going and getting shipped off to kill people in their own countries….

sealintheSelkirks

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