An understated, clean storefront with an emphasis on customer service inside — it would appear to be a recipe for success in the Belmont Shore shopping district.

But only time will tell how well Connected will fit in. Its stock in trade is medical marijuana.

Last November, Long Beach voters approved up to 32 medical marijuana dispensary licenses in the city. The rules that were part of the ballot initiative allowed dispensaries in commercial areas as long as buffer zones — a distance from schools, parks and other dispensaries — were met.

[related_articles location=”left” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”automatic-primary-section” curated_ids=””]Connected’s location at 5227 E. Second St. met all the requirements. And starting last Friday, transactions began to occur.

“We’re here to provide the best customer service available,” owner Elliot Lewis said. “Every patient will get the same experience every time…

“So far, the response has been mostly positive. We’re putting our best foot forward. We’ve got plenty of security, and the armed guards will make it safer in the area. They’ll be watching, and anyone who opens any product anywhere in the area will be banned (from the dispensary) for life.”

Third District City Councilwoman Suzie Price has fought marijuana dispensaries in general, and recently sponsored an ordinance strengthening regulation of the businesses. She said she had met with the Connected owners, and was convinced that they would do their best to run a good operation.

“I live in Long Beach, my kids go to school here,” Lewis said. “I have a vested interest in running a good, clean business here… The councilwoman told us bluntly that she was not in favor of this, but she has been very professional and we have what I would say is a good relationship.”

Connected is a small chain of dispensaries with outlets in Santa Ana and the Inland Empire. A second Long Beach site is under development now.

That group will provide the marijuana, which includes smokable leaves, edible items, concentrates and CBD products. CBD, or cannabidiol, is the part of marijuana believed to have medicinal qualities without the psychoactive THC. Lewis said the operators are licensed growers, and the products are tested for purity and concentration.

Nathan Davit is general manager of Connected, and employees are hired locally. Lewis said local vendors will be used whenever possible, as well.

The armed security is part of the city requirements for a dispensary license, and there is a robust video surveillance presence as well, Lewis said. On-site consumption is prohibited.

Concerns over large amounts of cash being handled and transferred is being handled by an agreement to use the UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) credit union, Lewis said. And Connected is a member of the Long Beach Collective Association.

“It has been effective in self-regulation,” he said of the association. “We want to be the white hats in this area, and want to stop the black hats. We live here too.”

Connected’s hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. A grand opening is being planned.

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