Adam Hijazi, the general manager at Long Beach Green Room, woke up bright and early Friday morning, Aug. 31, to pick up his permit allowing his shop to finally sell recreational weed.
His shop at 1735 E. 7th St. was one of four cannabis dispensaries in Long Beach that received the official green light to begin selling recreational marijuana.
- The Station, 1957 Pacific Ave.
- One Love Beach Club, 2767 E. Broadway
- Connected Cannabis Co., 5227 E. 2nd St
Customers slowly trickled in after the shop’s 9 a.m. opening.
Jeff, who asked not to give his last name or to have his photo taken, stopped by the shop with his medical card but his purchases are “recreational as well.” He said it’s good to see recreational sales finally become legal.
“I could never bring people here because they never had medical cards or anything,” he said. “Now I’ve got a lot of people I’m going to start bringing out here.”
Luis Martinez, a medical patient and long-time customer at the Green Room, said the opening up of recreational sales won’t affect him personally, but he’s seen a lot of people being turned away here, so he’s glad the business won’t have to do that anymore.
Hijazi spoke to that, as well.
“So many people still don’t know” about the complex regulations surrounding recreational weed, he said. “It’s going to take a while. We’ve been saying ‘no’ to people since January 1, and it’s going to take a while for the word to get out.”
Regardless, Hijazi said on Friday morning the uptick in business was already noticeable.
“It’s been a really busy morning,” he said. “It’s not normally like this.”
Although many of the customers were medical patients, he said at least five or six of more than a dozen customers in the shop’s first hour of recreational sales were there to engage in the newly legal transactions.
While Long Beach’s adult-use cannabis ordinance allowing recreational sales went into effect on Aug. 13, there had been no dispensaries with a permit to do so. Because of that, medical marijuana has been the only product dispensaries could legally sell, and patients must be at least 18, have a government ID and a doctor’s recommendation to partake.
Under Long Beach’s regulations, 32 dispensaries are allowed to operate. The city originally chose the businesses that would be allowed to sell medical marijuana through lotteries. The same dispensaries that won the right to sell medical marijuana are also the only businesses that were allowed to apply to sell recreational cannabis.
Long Beach Green Room was the first dispensary in the city that was licensed to sell medical marijuana, and it was also the first to get the OK to sell recreational pot after it passed a Thursday inspection.
Long Beach Green Room just opened up for their first day of recreational sales! pic.twitter.com/nuATCTHBm5
— Hayley E. Munguia (@hemdash) August 31, 2018
Further north, The Station was also buzzing with new customers on Friday. General manager Ramin Lotfi said he welcomes the influx, about 90 percent of which were buying for recreation, he said.
“It’s probably been the busiest morning we’ve had since July 1,” Lotfi said. “So it looks promising.”
One of those new customers, who goes by Sandro but asked not to use his full name, said he lives in Long Beach and has been a recreational cannabis user for a while.
“Usually I have to go all the way to Santa Ana,” the closest city where recreational sales have been legal, Sandro said. “So this is much more convenient. … I’d also rather have my tax money going to my community instead of Santa Ana, because I don’t live there.”
John A., who declined to give his full name because he works in a bank, also stopped by The Station. He grew up in Long Beach but lives in Baltimore now and was in town visiting family.
“My parents live right around the corner. I come back every year just to visit,” he said.
When he made a call to The Station this morning, he didn’t realize it was the first day of recreational sales.
“It’s awesome, though,” he said.
Over at Connected Cannabis in Belmont Store, three customers walked in within the first 20 minutes of the store’s opening. “We’re pumped,” said the store’s general manager Nathan Davit.
Davit described the dispensary as an Apple store meets a jewelry store, with products – ranging from bath bombs to vapes – encased in glass.
“We’re excited to be able to help customers who have never stepped foot in a dispensary before,” Davit said.
Customer Kathy, 70, has bought medical marijuana at Connected Cannabis for a year. “I feel comfortable there,” she said.
The owner of One Love Beach Club on Broadway, meanwhile, said his dispensary had a line of about 20 people before the doors opened at 9 a.m.
By 10:30, about 50 customers had strolled in – half as recreational customers, said owner Jeremy Abrams. Much like a contemporary brewery, One Love has a list of marijuana strains, with prices and THC percentage on an electronic board behind the counter.
Kimo Kim, 61, has been going to Connected since he started using marijuana last year to lower his blood pressure. But as he walked down Broadway Friday morning, he saw One Love and decided to go in.
“I’m still a neophyte, so I just got chocolate,” Kim said.
When asked whether he thought One Love and other pot shops being allowed to sell marijuana medicinally is a good thing, he shrugged.
“It’s America,” Kim said. “I think it’s cool.”