Aboard the Magic Bus: From OB To a Marijuana Superstore

by on February 9, 2018 · 19 comments

in Ocean Beach

Originally posted Feb. 9, 2018

See Joaquin’s 2nd Look, posted June 13, 2019.

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!)

{ 19 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!

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Avatar 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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Avatar Judy Swink February 10, 2018 at 10:41 am

Thank you for that additional explanation about taxes and fees.

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Avatar 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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Avatar 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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Avatar marc johnson February 10, 2018 at 4:04 pm

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

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Avatar 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 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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Avatar Rob July 8, 2019 at 6:36 am

Where is all the money going that is being collected for taxing the sales of medical and recreational marijuana? Our state doesn’t seem to be in better shape financially as a result. Crumbling bridges, roads, trash and weeds everywhere. Taxes continue going up with no improved result because we spend all the money on government pensions, organized labor and social programs.

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Avatar Vern July 8, 2019 at 1:12 pm

Outside of San Diego County, “… Santa Cruz County is assisting needy mothers and babies. Monterey County established a warming shelter, safe parking space and special services for homeless residents, many of them veterans. Oakland created a “social equity” program and will issue loans to help low-income entrepreneurs…”

In San Diego County, not quite sure.

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sealintheSelkirks sealintheSelkirks July 8, 2019 at 9:07 pm

Hey, maybe the ridiculous taxes went to…wait for it…the Spying & Recording Streetlights! What better way to use 30 million dollars in pot money?

Or wait, maybe all that money extorted from the public for a plant that can be grown in any backyard went towards more cops and militarized weaponry so they can bust poor both OB Mercy for buying from her local dealer! Remember OB M, they can follow your physical movements by the cellphone you are carrying and can pinpoint every address it was in with GoogleEarth. And remember, the National Spying…oops excuse me…National SECURITY Agency publicly admitted they are recording every phone call, every email, every text, and every website your computer ties into.

Ahhh, freedom, ain’t it grand?

sealintheSelkirks

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Avatar Geoff Page July 9, 2019 at 9:39 am

Tell us all something, seal, is there anything about this country that you actually like?

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sealintheSelkirks sealintheSelkirks July 9, 2019 at 9:59 pm

What Geoff, you don’t care much for my pointing out many of the little ‘inconsistencies’ between the myths the general population are taught to believe wholeheartedly in and the actual governmental policies that are put in place by neoliberal rich men/women in power in this country and their consequences/blowback?

Actually dude, you’d be better off to ask is there anything about the ruthless violent disgustingly wealthy and powerful sociopathic rulers of this country that I actually like…but I guess I kind of answered that as I wrote it, eh?

Here’s a couple of quotes for you to ponder:

“Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.” Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda 1936

“America is a nation of laws; badly written and randomly enforced.” Frank Zappa
______________

Oh wait Geoff, aren’t you the guy who labeled me a, what was it… a ‘misplaced’ idealist a while back? Sounded like more of a put-down but maybe I was projecting my angst or something… You probably won’t like my sarcasm much in this reply any more than the last time, but read on anyway.

You get to answer me this: Aren’t idealists the kind of people who want to make life better for everyone, make their country better, their world better? Doesn’t that tend to make one try to effect changes in the society one lives in? I would assume that trying to make life better would include being willing to point out those little inconsistencies to others so that ignorance in the population is pushed back just a tad in the hopes that people would have a better chance to make better choices and also start to push, in their own way, to make the world they live in a tiny bit more balanced.

As a citizen, isn’t it a requirement to point out the falsities and outright lies being perpetrated? If not it should be.

As for “tell us all’ what do I like about this country; I’m actually waiting for you to toss out the ‘Love It or Leave It’ crap that was being thrown in people’s faces during Vietnam and then constantly through the Reagan years. And yes of course I argued back at those idiots.

So how about you count me in on the side for the Bill of Rights embedded in the US Constitution. I think it was a damn fine piece of work, one impressive document for a bunch of young guys that grew up in a world that had always been ruled by god-ordained kings and queens. Excepting of course that it was not supposed to apply to women or slaves or…anybody that wasn’t a white male property/business owner. But it was still pretty dang good once later generations started fighting for those same rights to be applied to them.

But then we don’t really follow it anyway with all these ‘Acts’ like Cheney’s PNAC-created USAPATRIOT Act that he signed in 1998, and W Bush’s Military Commissions Act of 2006, and Obama’s lovely National Defense Authorization Act that the neoliberal anti-Constitutional scholar re-authorized just before he walked off the Presidential stage. Bill Clinton’s Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. Damn, there are so many to keep track of in one’s head! Then add in all those other interesting piece of political chicanery that effectively negates our supposed ‘rights’ that have been put into law in the last 40 years by all the neoliberal politicians of both sides of the corporate party (R & D). As George Carlin said, it’s an exclusive club and you ain’t invited.

Geoff, have you by chance read into any of just those first three documents to get a wider understanding of just what and how much has been taken away from you? I have, and it’s pretty dang ugly. You might want to download these documents and compare to a copy of the Bill of Rights. I have a poster of it hanging on the wall of my shop as a reminder of what should be…

And by the way, do you know how many people went to jail for the war crimes (according to the Geneva Convention and the Nuremberg Principles that this country is a signatory of) of invading Iraq and the CIA, and US Military committing right along with them, torturing people to death? Or how many people went to jail for blatant fraud that crashed the economy in 2008? Oh, that’s right, the only people that went to jail were the whistleblowers who risk their life, health, and destroyed their chances of any job forever by reporting on War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity government-approved torture like John Kirakou the CIA guy that reported the War Crimes being done by the CIA. He did how many years in a federal prison for violating ‘national security?’ Obama just LOVED the 1917 Espionage Act, didn’t he?

Please note that in our exceptional shining light on the hill-type country, we now have Bloody Gina Haspell the torture bitch from hell who personally destroyed the videotaped evidence, now as the Director of the CIA!!! Gives me chills it does!

Is there anything I like about our country? Well Geoff, only its potential to do far better than the lousy job it has done so far in so many categories for so many years as the United States Empire. Pretty much started with the invasion of the continent by Europeans but really got going with the attack on Mexico to steal the southwester part, then the attack on Spain to steal all their colonies around the world, then…you get my drift.

Don’t read this article below. Maybe others that might be following this comment thread will, though.

The American Dream Drives a Tank Down Pennsylvania Ave.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/07/04/the-american-dream-drives-a-tank-down-pennsylvania-ave/

sealintheSelkirks

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Avatar Geoff Page July 10, 2019 at 12:20 pm

Well, I guess that answers my question. So, where would be a better place to live and why aren’t you there?

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sealintheSelkirks sealintheSelkirks July 12, 2019 at 12:29 pm

Geoff: Wow, really?! You replied EXACTLY as…well, what took you so long, dude? Shades of 1969..talk about a step back into history. Or maybe you have a sense of humor? Nah, I sort of doubt it.

I refer you back to paragraph 9, sentence 1, the second half after the semi-colon of my previous reply if you are confused about what I’m referring to.

You answer had me literally sitting here grinning at the computer screen because, I mean, you couldn’t come up with anything better than Love it or Leave it? That tripe was pretty old 50 years ago and here you are dragging out dead stinking right wing attack crap just like crazy old Johnson and Nixon supporters during the Vietnam years (and remember the IDEALIST hippy crowd were absolutely correct about Vietnam!) and then a few years later the same crapola was spewing from the rear ends of the neoliberal corporate Reaganites to ‘shame’ anyone who questioned their crazy behavior and aggressive foreign war and domestic corporate economic policies.

And here you are, five decades later, coming up with it slightly re-worded! Believe me, I actually heard the same words from the lips of Vietnam war hawks and racist segregationists and misogynists as a teenager. 50 years ago!!!

And for some reason you didn’t answer a single one of the questions I posed even after I did answer yours. Again.

sealintheSelkirks

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Avatar Geoff Page July 15, 2019 at 10:51 am

Seal, I asked you a simple question and you very quickly put a whole lot of meaning on it that was not there. You put yourself into that question. I am a lifelong liberal, I have never been accused of being right wing, but you did not read the question, you read into the question. Completely incorrectly I would add.

You are entirely too didactic for my taste, You seem to think you are the only one who knows history and you’re on a mission to educate all of the rest of us ignorant fools. You’ve been railing against all the evils of this country as if these were secrets only you are privy to. So, all I asked was, where is better and why aren’t you there. Very simple question. Or is you only mission in life to repeat all of the sins of this country lest we all forget? So answer the question, where is a better country and why haven’t you moved there?

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Avatar Geoff Page July 19, 2019 at 1:00 pm

There’s a couple of minutes of my life I’ll never get back. I only read it to see if you answered my simple, yes, simple question. Yes, this country has a lot of faults and a lot of bad history, although some of us really don’t need you to educate us.

I asked you and I’ll ask again, where is a better place and why aren’t you there. I did not say love it or leave it, you said that. How about a direct – and short – answer

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sealintheSelkirks sealintheSelkirks July 23, 2019 at 1:55 pm

Direct and short answer: I ask you to look up the comparisons between OECD Nations and the living conditions in the US. That will answer your first question.

As to your second question of why I haven’t run away, remember by your own words I’m an idealist. Historically idealists tend to keep trying to inform people along with trying to change the society they were born into for the better…at least until they get murdered. Ultra rightwing nationalists tend to do that to dissenters eventually. World history is full of this including US history.

sealintheSelkirks

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Avatar Geoff Page July 23, 2019 at 3:53 pm

I said didactic before, let’s add obfuscation to the list.

Your answer was to refer me to something to look up, that is not an answer. And, there are 24 nations in the OECD list, including this country. So what does that mean? Any one of 24 countries, including the U.S. are better places?

And you didn’t answer the second question directly but I guess from your list, you’re in a better place despite all that you have written about how horrible this country is. Kind of like having your cake and eating it too.

Admit it, seal, you like this country and you know that no place else is better because there is bad history everywhere in the world. That’s all I’ve been after here, so why not write a few positive things to balance out the negative? Then maybe you won’t have to worry about the ultra right-wingers coming to get you.

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