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Best-Rated Dispensaries in California

2022-11-07T09:45:45-08:00

California cannabis lovers are among the most discerning cannabis consumers on the planet. With the largest cannabis market in the nation, and the second highest number of dispensaries (1,440), California makes it possible for cannabis consumers to be choosy about what they buy and where they shop. At Off the Charts, we understand that in order to remain one of the best-rated dispensaries in California, we have to do more than just offer high-quality products?we also have to provide excellent customer service and reasonable prices. And that’s exactly what we do every single day.

We offer a huge selection of cannabis products, great deals, and the best possible price on every single product. Additionally, we make a daily commitment to go above and beyond for our customers, and because of that, we continue to strengthen our relationships with the communities we serve. But no need to take our word for it. We’re proud to point out the abundance of 4- and 5-star reviews that every Off the Chart dispensary location receives on Google and Yelp.

Take a look below at what our customers have to say about our SoCal cannabis dispensaries in Vista, Palm Springs, Sherman Oaks, and Winterhaven. We’ve highlighted some of the details in bold.

Off the Charts Dispensary Vista, CA 

1745 E Vista Way

Five Stars

Google Reviews

“This place is amazing!! Absolutely must stop here, they have anything and everything you need and the staff is freaking amazing!! Andre has the brightest smile and is so quick to help and gives useful information!! 10/10” – Leah Spears

“This place has it all!! They also price match to make sure they have the best deals 🤑 Came all the way from Dana Point for this 🤠” – Fernando R. Zamarron

“Great experience!! My trip to Off the Charts was nothing but great! The security guard “J” greeted us at the door and made sure everyone felt safe. We need more people like him!!!” – Cameron Young

Yelp

“I have been to many dispensaries.This one has the absolute BEST staff. Sky & Brooke. All of them are rad as well. The vibe of this place is awesome. The people are super cool & extremely helpful. Great place.” – Stacey C.

“Best dispensary in SD !! I have given this business five stars but would definitely give them more if that was an option. Every time I visit I feel like I’m taken care of, and that is incredible because they’ve managed to hang onto what they’re there to do and that’s provide compassionate care to those that need it. I highly recommend this business to anyone looking for a local dispensary to acquire their medicinal needs with kindness and fantastic customer Service. Their selection is out of this world. I’ve actually never seen one like it, and that’s definitely saying something. I just wanted to drop in and leave a decent review because I just dropped in, and as always everyone was super helpful and kind. They deserve 10 stars, hell 1000 stars!! Thank you guys again for being there when I need you, really grateful that Off The Charts has chosen San Diego to call home :::)” – Alexandra H.

“I love this dispensary. I’ve been coming here for years. They have the most competitive prices and a friendly knowledgeable staff. Even when it gets busy, they keep it efficient and moving so you don’t wait long. I highly recommend visiting this place. It’s a candy store for the bud lover.” – Ariel S.

Off the Charts Dispensary Palm Springs, CA

1508 S Palm Canyon Drive

Five Stars

Google Reviews

“I LOVE this dispensary so much! The OTC employees really go out of their way to help you find great products & great deals!!! Such a friendly environment, I have been to so many dispensaries out here in the Valley but no one tops OTC. Please do yourself a favor and pay them a visit! Thanks OTC! You got a lifelong loyal customer here 💓.” – Nancy

“Great shop! The professionalism exceeded my expectations with Mel’s great customer service. Amazing products with the best prices around, and offer many deals including $10 1/8s and $5 pre-rolls. Highly recommend if you’re in the area and looking for quality meds.” – LC

“Best dispensary in town by far! Driving by the place it may seem small from the outside but wait until you see inside! From the very friendly guard up front Manny, made me feel right at home. To the knowledgeable and friendly staff. This place has it all, if you want quality they definitely have it but if you want an amazing deal they have that too! Also shout out to the fantastic budtender Ciarah, every thing she recommended me was on point and tasted amazing! Thank you again for the great first time experience, this is definitely going to be my new spot!” – Brandy Cole

Yelp Reviews

“My favorite dispensary in the Coachella valley! Great selection and wonderful customer service! I highly suggest for locals or anyone visiting !” – Hannah S

“I basically stumbled into this RAD little shop off the beaten path in Palm Springs today. It’s tucked away near a few hotels (SANDOR V, Caliente Tropics, ACE Hotel) and very close to amazing crepe (Gabino’s) and ice cream (KREEM) shops. The staff here is awesome. You get Happy Hour pricing in the opening and closing hours. You also get a free 1-gram preroll J on your first visit! Off the Charts? Off the CHAIN! – Dylan B

“I was in town for a week and happened to walk by the store. Great marketing to prop the front door open so potential customers find it inviting to walk in. Customer service was 5 star and the pre-rolls I bought were great quality and at the right price.  I even got a little freebie for being a first-time customer. Great little shop and highly recommended.” – Sarah C

Off the Charts Dispensary and Lounge Palm Springs, CA

757 Williams Road

Five Stars

Google Reviews

“This is definitely the place to go. They are a family away from home. Always kind and know what you need. They have the best prices in town and have a wide variety of products. From the time you walk in the door you are greeted and your experience here is worthwhile. Hang out in the lounge for a bit and enjoy the people around. I never go anywhere else but here” – Linda Maudlin

“Otc is da bomb. Go see mike dabzz when you’re there. He knows his stuff and doesn’t let you buy something he wouldn’t like for himself. I’m picky about vape pens and he always finds interesting ones to recommend.” – Dave Postal

“The staff and bud tenders are fan fvcking tastic. They are so helpful.  If I have questions they are all willing to answer. They will suggest items. Great service fully stocked. Would love to work for them.” – Elicia Jimenez Pedroza

Yelp

“My go-to shop as it’s a less than 5 min drive. I frequent often and have had interactions with most budtenders, all which are always happy to help. I know they offer happy hour deals but I’m not familiar with them so it’s best to ask. Their lounge is small, but adequate for the space. Seems like every day it’s a different genre. One night it’s hip hop, games or house music. They also display their rigs and bongs by the entrance if you’re ever in need of one.” – Manira C

Micheal (think that was his name) was amazing with helping me pick out products. Good call on the highlights! The store has very comfortable vibes with a solid selection. One of the few places in the valley where I see clones! I’m a kid in a candy store every time I go.” – Anthony C

‘Visited this place because the pictures looked pretty and it was. However, that’s not why they are receiving a 5 star. The stars increased because of the great customer service.  I mean everyone from the security guard to all 3 customer service reps were not only friendly and welcoming,  but super knowledgeable.  They have a large selection and were able to explain things in detail. It was also reasonably priced. This is definitely one to support. – Shanta M

Off the Charts Dispensary Sherman Oaks, CA

5242 Van Nuys Boulevard

Five Stars

Google

“This place is soooo freaking cute and clean and the prices are ridiculously cheap. I feel like I’m in Oregon.  Val & Aaron are so informative and helpful. The vibes are immaculate. If you are in the area you have to stop by !” – Nawla Haras

“Fun and friendly with a cool vibe. Literally just spent $35 at a diff dispensary on less than 20% of what I bought at OTC. So cheap and great — this will be my reg spot from here on.” – Gabi Gotts Music

“This shop is one of my favorite shops ever! They have another shop in Palm Springs and when I found out they opened one here in Sherman oaks that’s all I go to now! Highly recommend great deals and friendly staff! Don’t miss out!” – Dominic Ray

“Such an awesome new dispensary in a great location! They have every product/brand and more! Usually I have to go to certain shops to get certain products. Now I can just go here for everything, such a great selection! Also the awesome staff member who helped me said if there’s anything they don’t have that I want to let them know so they could order it. What a great new addition to the valley, I will be here often. Also tons of great discounts and they have a happy hour (10% off) in the mornings and evenings. Definitely recommend!” – Kevin Frey

Yelp

“Had a memorable experience last weekend. My budtender Vee was very accommodating and friendly. As someone that is relatively new to concentrates, she gladly answered all my “dumb” questions and recommended several products for me to choose from. From there I was able to decide which one was best for me. I’d recommend Off The Charts to anyone in the Valley looking for quality products and service with a smile.. Thanks again Vee! :-)” – Jees G

I want to start this off by saying that I have really bad anxiety and normally hate going into dispensaries so I ALWAYS do delivery…I found Off The Charts on weedmaps and…was instantly welcomed and helped by Alana. She was so friendly, knowledgeable and helpful…The store itself is bright, clean, organized and has SO many options. I also really appreciated that I was able to walk around the store and actually look at the products up close – unlike most stores that have it all behind the counter…I bought 18 boxes of edibles and 6 vape pens – for the same price I normally spend on 10 boxes and 2 pens. This supply is going to last a few months but whenever I am ready to buy more I will definitely come back here. Thank you guys, especially Alana!” – Mackenzie J

Off the Charts Dispensary Winterhaven, CA

2115 W Winterhaven Drive

Five Stars

Google Reviews

“FIVE STARS! Great customer service,  the PRICES are unbeatable,  I saved over $50 vs buying in Ariz.” – Dallas Nelson“It’s the dispensary shop to go to in the Yuma/Winterhaven area….Hands Down!!!👍👍😤💨🤯💨😑😄😁😆.” – Jey Ville

“What a great dispensary.  Best dispensary in the Yuma area.  Finally reasonable prices instead of being charged outlandish prices, like in Yuma. Thank you for opening your dispensary in Winterhaven.” – Sandra LaPlaca

“Clean and spacious location. Good quality prices. Friendly people. Employees know what they are talking about when you ask questions.” – Eric Estrada

Best-rated dispensaries in California | Off the Charts

At Off the Charts, we love what we do, not just because we love cannabis but because we love cannabis people too. If you’re already a loyal customer, we thank you from the bottoms of our hearts. And if you’re new, welcome! We can’t wait to get to know you.

Whoever you are, you’re the reason we do what we do. And we’re here for you.

Whether you’re looking for the highest quality cannabis products to help manage your pain, calm your nerves, or get the party started, we’ve got you covered. We know you’ll appreciate our wide selection, our knowledgeable and helpful staff, our reasonable prices, and our extraordinarily high standards of cleanliness, quality, and service. Come see for yourself why all 5 Off the Charts locations are considered among the best dispensaries in California.

Best-Rated Dispensaries in California2022-11-07T09:45:45-08:00

Castle’s Labs has cannabis plants like trees

2022-10-27T14:01:29-07:00

Kurt Castle, founder and creator of Castle’s Labs, creates products that help with all sorts of flora and fauna management. His Plant Magic is “an organic probiotic spray that promotes bigger, healthier, chemical and pesticide free plants. It’s great for cannabis, because it increases terpenes and trichomes, and it ups the yield by at least an ounce. It makes bigger healthier leaves, and more developed, tastier buds.” He also says that it’s a GRAS product, which means it’s Generally Recognized as Safe by the FDA.

I visited Kurt at his compound in El Cajon to get a more in-depth look. When I arrived, the first thing I noticed was that he and his family live self-sustainably. They grow their own food — not just for themselves, but for their pets as well. I spotted banana trees, pomegranate trees, pluot trees, potatoes, and some big, big cannabis plants. I don’t know exactly how many plants he had, but what I saw were more like trees than plants. They were taller than I am, and I’m six feet tall. We then traveled to a neighbor of his down the street; Castle wanted to show me his neighbor Drew’s plants as well. Look up backyard.harvesting on Instagram to see his work. He’d been using Castle’s Labs products for five or six years, and said it grows bigger, healthier and bigger buds. His plants — or trees, I should say — were taller than I am as well. He was growing Item 9, Candyland Peyote, Blueberry Mazar and Freakshow, and he was nice enough to provide me with some buds to help me with my field tests.

But wait, there’s more! Not only are Castle’s Labs products good for cannabis growth, they’re also good for removing odors in compost and animal waste, and for breaking down manure. Castle discovered this when he was making his first batch six years ago: he thought he was doing it wrong, because it “stank bad.” Frustrated, “I dumped it in the pig pen where he goes to the bathroom, and a couple days later I didn’t smell it anymore. As a matter of fact, I didn’t smell pig shit anymore either. I then dumped some in the chicken coop, and it eliminated all the odors in there.” I can attest to not smelling any odors from the pig pen or chicken coop, and to the cannabis buds having a cleaner taste.

The spray is lactobacillus based, and gets mixed with water. Per Castle: “The probiotics grow microbes that break down the organics in the soil, and break poop down into soil. Homeostasis. My spray is good for all plants, trees, and fruit trees, not just cannabis plants.” He did note that “repeat applications are necessary for best results to get the microbes to colonize when you’re using them for odor control.”

You can order Castle’s Labs products at www.castleslabs.com, on Shopify, or by calling 619-273-3936. A 16 oz. bottle costs $29.95, and a gallon $69.95. Castle dreams of branching out and getting bigger. He’d like to clean up the big manure piles on commercial farms, and to help clean homeless encampments. We parted with him saying passionately, “We can fix the planet!”

Castle’s Labs has cannabis plants like trees2022-10-27T14:01:29-07:00

Say Ta-ta to Tar With the CastAway Pipe

2022-12-02T20:10:53-08:00

Using patent-pending technology, the new CastAway pipe helps to reduce tar from reaching your lungs while letting those tasty terps shine through.

Smoking cannabis has been one of the most popular consumption methods for millennia. And for good reason; when smoked, the effects and efficacies are instantaneous, which is what many medical cannabis patients need from their medicine. However, it’s no secret that smoking anything is not the healthiest option—and that includes cannabis. That’s why CleanBuzz Technologies developed the CastAway Pipe System that eliminates tar and carcinogenic particulates from smoke, so you get a fresh, clean experience with every draw.

A Cool, Clean Buzz

CleanBuzz Technologies is on a mission to make smoking cannabis safer for everyone—especially medicinal patients, who face the conundrum of needing the full potency of flower for pain management but also fewer carcinogens in their lungs.
By utilising patent-pending, first-of-its-kind technology, the CastAway pipe is a basic two-piece design constructed of anodized aluminum that includes the bowl inclosure and a screw-on stem. The bowl liner has a large enough capacity to hold up to 0.3 grammes of herbs. The pipe achieves full flower potency with less tar and plant matter reaching your lungs in three ways:

  • Improved Taste and Flavors: The flavour and purity of your herb are degraded by tar buildup in a dirty pipe. For superior flavour, a clean pipe is essential. CastAway liners reduce tar buildup in the bowl, making every draw delicious.
    Reduced Tar and Carcinogens: Removing the tar from your pipe bowl improves the flavour of your flower while also lowering the risk of carcinogenic fumes. No more clogged pipe bowls—and better flavour and safety.
    Simple Pipe Cleaning: Cleaning a cannabis pipe has always been a sticky, stinky, and unpleasant task. But not anymore! Simply remove the used bowl liner, along with all the nasty tar and residue trapped inside. Replace the old liner with a freshie and you’re ready to go. buy online metal pipe for smoking weed

How the CastAway Pipe Works

The CastAway Pipe traps messy and unhealthy particles in a proprietary disposable bowl liner called Trap the Crap where a 60-mesh screen offers the initial level of filtration before the smoke travels down into the ceramic trapping beads for the second stage. When smoke passes through this chamber, tar condenses onto the surfaces of the beads, trapping carcinogenic particles before the cooled smoke flows into the pipe stem—and then on to you.
When medicinal patients put the CastAway’s pipe liners to the test using high-potency flower, up to 300mg of tar and matter was removed from each gram of flower smoked. The patients also reported full potency of their flower and less congestion in their lungs.
Additionally, the full flavour of your cannabis is preserved so you can still taste those terps!

Liners: Clean versus dirty.

How to Clean the CastAway Pipe

Thanks to the disposable liners, cleaning the CastAway pipe is a breeze!
After using the pipe 15 to 20 times, or when you notice harsher hits, simply remove the used liner out of the pipe, wipe the pipe bowl clean and drop in a fresh new liner. Voila — a like-new pipe in under a minute with no messy residue removal. This easy pipe-cleaning solution means no more sticky or smelly residue on your pipe and fingers!

Developed As An Alternative to Vaping

CleanBuzz’s cutting-edge technology was created to address the key flaws and concerns associated with vaping, such as potency loss due to the extraction process and the possibility of being exposed to hot metal ions, which can be detrimental to the lungs.
Similar to vaping, this innovative smoking technology eliminates tars and particles and overcomes the lack of efficacy experienced by medicinal patients who vape. Additionally, there are no metal ions in the lungs now that the hot wires have been removed.
The CastAway pipe is the first product to use this revolutionary smoking-technology paradigm for the flower smoking market, with full potency, reduced tar and easy cleanup. The pipe is nearly indestructible, portable, and proudly manufactured in the United States.
You wouldn’t drink expensive wine from a dirty glass, so why would you smoke cannabis from a dirty pipe? The CastAway pipe will elevate your experience, every time.

Say Ta-ta to Tar With the CastAway Pipe2022-12-02T20:10:53-08:00

Let’s Talk Legitimacy

2022-08-10T09:32:34-07:00

Don’t ask Pete Morales to wax poetic about the glory days of trap shops. As the general manager at EMBR dispensary in La Mesa, his feet are firmly planted in the future, which, by the way, has arrived. Yes, your weed may cost a little more than it used to, but you can shop for it in a dispensary that looks and feels like a Whole Foods store. Or you can have it delivered directly to your home. And you get the peace of mind knowing your weed is perfectly safe to smoke. These are good things.

But even in this bright new future, the legitimacy of the cannabis industry is still in question and the stigma still remains. And that, Morales believes, is what we should be talking about. One of the biggest obstacles to legitimacy, in his eyes, is the City (in his case, the City of La Mesa), which deprives dispensaries of opportunities to get involved with the community.

“I can’t throw any events here. I can’t have a food truck or a DJ booth set up out here,” he says. “If we can’t engage with the community, then how can we show them we’re not just sleazy stoners? Clearly we’re not considered legitimate businesses if we can’t get involved in community events.”

The Gray Areas of compliance are also of particular concern to Morales. For example, when he was trying to establish systems and processes for waste management at EMBR, the compliance information he needed was almost impossible to find.

“I was literally looking through resource after resource after resource,” he says.  “There wasn’t a standard or a template that I could go off of.”

In the end, after extensive research, phone calls, and confirmation from the City that he was in compliance, he set a clear standard for his store’s waste management and created a template to make it easy for his employees to follow. Although Morales enjoys creating systems and processes to make a seamless work environment, the absence of clear compliance standards is a huge obstacle to full legitimization for the cannabis industry.  This lack of transparency not only increases the bureaucratic burden for the businesses that are trying to play by the rules, but it also potentially leads to more violations and citations, which ends up looking bad for all dispensaries.

“When people see that in the newspaper, they throw us all into one group and say, ‘Oh look at those stoners, they’re messing up,’” he says. “But there’s a lot of us out here that are running legitimate businesses. We’re paying our taxes, we’re providing jobs to the community. It’s not some sketchy, sleazy drug dealer in the alley.”

If sketchy is what you’re looking for, you may want to look elsewhere. Recent collaborations among state and federal law enforcement authorities resulted in the shutdown of nearly 30 unlicensed, illegal marijuana dispensaries and wholesale distributors in Southern California, many in East County San Diego.

Let’s Talk Legitimacy2022-08-10T09:32:34-07:00

Marijuana growing in Vista great idea – or is it?

2022-09-27T11:06:52-07:00

Cannabis is booming in Vista. Its 11 retail dispensaries have a corner on North County’s legal weed market, serving consumers from Oceanside, Carlsbad, San Marcos, Escondido, and Fallbrook. Since August of 2021, they haven’t needed a doctor’s note. Vista officials report its hometown dispensaries cause little crime, and bring in a half-million dollars each month in taxes.

The Vista city council is now leading this inland city of 100,000 nicknamed “America’s Climatic Wonderland” into its next phase as a marijuana mecca. At its June 28 meeting, its five-member city council began the process to license three greenhouses which would open in the Vista Business Park. There are currently no legal cultivators in Vista. These enclosed grow houses could range from 500 to 22,000 square feet, depending on what the grower requests.

“They [Vista’s 11 dispensaries] would love to have a Vista-cultivated brand to sell in their establishments,” says Vista city councilmember Joe Green. “Similar to our breweries that all have local brews that they sell.”

Green says that adding regulated greenhouses to Vista’s cannabis portfolio could add another $1 million each year in taxed income to Vista’s coffers.

“Vista could end up being famous in the world for having its own Vista strain,” says councilmember Corinna Contreras.

A majority of Green’s city council colleagues agree that Vista should move into cultivation. But who gets the right to grow Vista homegrown was the center of a contentious city council debate last week.

Republican Green and his Democratic colleagues Contreras and Katie Melendez maintain that Vista should start using “social equity” guidelines to determine who should get these new cultivation licenses.

The social equity concept as it has been used gives special consideration to members of certain racial groups, veterans, women, disabled, or those with prior drug convictions. Members of these groups get preferential consideration when the city decides who gets these new licenses.

“Entire communities were pulled apart by the war on drugs,” says Melendez. “I want to ensure that communities in Vista have the same opportunities of the commercialization of a sacred plant.”

Deputy Mayor John Franklin, a Republican, implored Green, Contreras, and Melendez to spell out who exactly would benefit from Vista’s new social equity equation. Vista’s 11 retail licenses were awarded three years ago without any social equity considerations.

The three declined, saying that Vista city manager Patrick Johnson and his staff should define which groups get this special social equity consideration for these new cultivation licenses.

Franklin was not having it. Noting that council member Contreras mentioned African American and Latinos, he wondered if Asians, Samoan Americans, or native Americans would get shut out at the expense of the other two minorities she mentioned.

“I’m 128th Choctaw,” says Franklin. “Does that qualify me? I thought we were done with government-sanctioned race discrimination in America. I believe treating people differently because of the color of their skin is morally outrageous, and it’s unconstitutional.”

Franklin says including race in Vista’s new social equity standard connected with the cultivation licensing will exclude one or more groups based on skin color. He says he is prepared to sue his own city if race is used in the new cultivation ordinance.

The social equity measure passed 3-2 with Franklin and Mayor Judy Ritter voting no. Franklin voted no. Not because he was against cultivation, but because of the social equity component.

Deputy Mayor Franklin says that the council majority dodged its decision making responsibility by letting the city manager and his staff decide how to write the social equity formula. He says it is important for the council to discuss such crucial issues as racial preference in a public meeting and not leave it up to city staff. “This is a potential explosive landmine,” says Franklin. “I just want my fellow councilmembers to stand up for what they believe and show it with a public vote.”

Franklin says the fact that Proposition 16 failed by 57 percent in 2020 shows Californians don’t want to use race for preferential treatment. Prop 16 would have allowed racial preference in college admissions.

Franklin says that the only way for the city manager to construct a social equity ordinance that would satisfy the Greene/Contreras/Melendez majority is that he would have to contact them individually to get their views. He says that would constitute serial meetings outside of the public view and that that is a violation of the Brown Act.

Green contended that it is best that city staff and not the council decide what social equity is. “I don’t want to debate for hours what the best protected class is.”

The new cultivation/social equity ordinance will come back for its second, final vote at the August 9 Vista city council meeting. That is when the social equity preferences will be outlined. City staff could say that social equity could apply to one, two or all three of the new cultivation licenses to be issued by the city.

Mike Mellano, owner/operator of the Coastal Wellness dispensary in Vista agrees with Franklin that race has no place in determining who gets a cultivation license. “There is no better definition of racism other than qualifying someone because of the color of their skin,” says Mellano.

Vista would be the first in the county to use social equity. Councilmember Green says social equity has been used by the cities of Long Beach, Bellflower, San Bernardino, Morro Bay, and Oxnard.

Councilmember Contreras says San Diego County and the city of San Diego, “…are looking at” social equity for its licensing. She says that Vista’s continued expansion of its cannabis industry is, “…making our community safer,” because it keeps drug cartels out of the picture.

Green calls himself a “moderate conservative” and says he does not see Vista as the latest California city to become a city hall run by a progressive majority. “I’m just a white guy from Illinois who married a Mexican woman. I look at what’s best for Vista. Partisanship is just not my thing.”

Franklin is running for the mayoral seat being vacated by Ritter. He included his concerns about social equity and its potential for racism in an email blast asking for donations.

Issuing cannabis cultivation licenses may be a moot point say some Vista retailers contacted for this article. They say that a current glut of “flower” or “product” coming in from growers from across the state would probably keep any potential growers from investing in a new grow facility. ”Who would want to spend the five or six million dollars it would take to get a grow site up and running?” asks Mellano. “I would not.” Mellano’s family has long grown produce in Oceanside under the Mellano & Company banner.

Any new Vista cannabis growhouse operator would have to pay $4,316 just to apply for the license. That grower would face a mandatory $19,967 in annual “regulation and inspection” fees. Each new cultivator would also have to pay $15.31 per square foot annually.

The new ordinance says that any new cannabis greenhouse would have to be at least 600 feet from a residence or a youth-oriented business, the same distance observed by its 11 retail stores.

Meanwhile, one Vista dispensary owner who declined to be named says not every dispensary is in the black. He says those that are connected with major chains like March & Ash, Stiiizy, Urban Leaf, Speedy Weedy and Tradecraft are making a profit, but that smaller, independent dispensaries are simply not profitable yet. He says that all Vista dispensaries have to pay one-third of their income in state, local and excise taxes. “In three years, I haven’t made a penny,” he says.

Marijuana growing in Vista great idea – or is it?2022-09-27T11:06:52-07:00

How marijuana businesses will start in National City

2021-12-15T13:43:58-08:00

National City has set five new business fees for commercial cannabis businesses, which will take effect in February.

The total, about $11,000, is somewhere in between the fees charged by Chula Vista, its neighbor to the south, and La Mesa.

According to Megan Gamwell, the city’s economic development specialist, the average cost for a cannabis application is around $10,000, but Chula Vista “is a bit of an outlier” with fees ranging from $7,000 to $16,000.

La Mesa charges between $7,000 and $10,000. And in faraway Mt. Shasta, a city similar in size to National City, the cost is between $5,000 and $8,000.

“So we fall right in line with adjacent cities and cities similar in size.”

Gamwell said the fees will be used to recover the cost of developing the regulatory program, and to review and process applications for cannabis businesses.

To determine the costs, which are based on the time it will take staff to review the applications, the city worked with cannabis consultants from SCI Consulting,

The number of commercial cannabis licenses has been set at six, allowing up to three in the Industrial Zones and three Consumption Lounges in the Tourist Commercial Zone West of I-5.

Who will make the cut?

Those who live there, the city hopes, dedicating at least two permits to local owner applicants who have lived in National City for at least three years prior to November 9, 2021, when the application process was finalized.

The city will favor proposals that benefit the community; for example higher pay and benefits for employees. A minimum of one permit is intended for applicants applying for a cannabis consumption lounge.

Everyone begins by paying an initial fee of $1,859, and meeting minimum eligibility requirements. There will be a Zoning Verification Letter of $80 per site. In the next phase, each applicant pays $3,765, and the applications are ranked. The top six who score at least 90 percent advance to phase three, paying a deposit of up to $5,000, depending on how time-consuming the application.

Other fees include a background check of $350 per owner, and an appeal process fee of $3,586 per appeal. Appeals can be made at any point in the application process.

While the review looks at many aspects – from a business’s proposed location to its security plan, the most points are assigned to their Labor, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Plan.

Local applicants will receive an extra 150 points added to their application score.

One local asked that the council support the recommendation of vice mayor Jose Rodriguez to require three businesses be local, not just two, saying the city has enough qualified professionals to operate more than two cannabis businesses.

While the fees will become effective Feb. 7, 2022, Gamwell said they haven’t decided when they will start taking applications.

In the future, the city will be adding additional fees, including an annual cannabis business permit fee for those who survive the entire application process.

How marijuana businesses will start in National City2021-12-15T13:43:58-08:00

Vista loosens regs on medical pot

2022-09-27T10:46:32-07:00

The City of Vista is rolling in weed money, and it’s only going to increase.

Vista became the only city in North County to allow cannabis dispensaries when the citizen-sponsored Measure Z passed in 2018. Its passage forced the city to allow 11 storefronts to get licensed to sell “medical” pot to adults with a doctor’s note. The first one opened in October 2019, the last in February of this year. The lack of criminal activity and the unexpected tax windfall to city coffers encouraged the Vista city council to allow all 11 dispensaries to also sell cannabis to recreational users.

In Vista you no longer need a medical excuse to buy Blackout Brownie, Grape Ape, or Bubba Kush.

Coastal Wellness became the first shop to get a license to begin selling “recreational”” cannabis on August 12. “Our business was up 60 percent in the first day,” says owner Mike Mellano about his store’s bumped-up bottom line. “And all that came from new customers. Over our first five days selling recreational, we’ve averaged a 58 percent increase in sales.”

Mellano says some people just don’t want to bother with a medical excuse. “Some people are leery of them. People perceive it as getting on a list. Even though that’s not the case, that’s the perception. By allowing adult-use [recreational] we’re able to capture a whole new set of customers.”

City clerk Kathy Valdez oversees Vista’s cannabis licensing. She says seven other dispensaries have also just been approved including March and Ash, Hello Cannabis, Off the Charts, Stiiizy, doctorgreenrx, Speedy Weedy and The Cake House. She expects Vista’s other three, Urbn Leaf, Flora Verde dispensary Vista and Tradecraft Farms, to get approved within the next week.

Vista has contracted with the Orange County auditing firm Hinderliter, de Llamas & Associates to begin performing financial audits of its dispensaries beginning this month. Up to now Vista’s dispensaries have paid their 7 per cent sales tax through their own self-reporting. That honor system yielded an eye-popping $1.5-million to Vista’s general fund for the most recent quarter, April/May/June. This anticipates a $6-million annual boost to Vista’s city hall budget.

That $1.5-million quarterly sales tax figure does not include an annual $19,967 fee which each dispensary pays to cover the City of Vista’s costs to oversee their pot shops. After complaints were filed by the dispensaries, those annual fees were lowered from $28,000.

“It is still an excessive amount, but I’m glad they took a more true-cost approach to this,” says Justin Christman, co-owner of Flora Verde about the readjusted fees. “It’s hard to make a living at this.”

“We were definitely surprised,” says Valdez when Vista’s pot tax income first topped $1-million for the quarter ending September, 2020. “I will also say we have not had many calls [to the sheriff department for criminal activity].” Mellano maintains beer causes more trouble than pot. “The metrics show that breweries get more [police calls] than dispensaries,” says Mellano.

When it became clear that Vista’s cannabis tax income was way over projections, its city council decided in April budget discussions that all annual cannabis tax income over $4-million would not be returned to the dispensaries in the form of tax reduction, but would instead go towards a yet-to-be-named earmark like youth sports, infrastructure or education.

“I would have liked to have seen a fee decrease to help mom-and-pop businesses like us survive,” says Flora Verde’s Christman. “But having been born and raised in Vista, I am glad to see they will be giving 100 per cent of that extra tax money back to the community. It’s clear we’re not high on their priority list. If it’s not going back in our pockets, at least it’s going somewhere good.” Christman says the city council first accepted dispensaries three years ago – kicking and screaming. But now we have a city council that is unanimously behind us.”

But what could derail Vista’s marijuana gravy train? Mellano estimates that two-thirds of his business comes from those who live outside Vista. If adjacent cities were to follow Vista’s lead, any new cannabis emporiums outside the city could eat into Vista’s market share. “Encinitas is next,” Mellano predicts. He says it is unclear if other area cities will take the plunge.

Both Mellano and Christman say their thriving business model is less threatened by other legal dispensaries than by the countywide black market.

“We constantly hear about law enforcement shutting them down,” says Mellano about the illegal shops that keep popping up. “It used to take them about three to six months to shut them down, now it gets done in about a month. It seems like they are putting more resources in that effort.”

Still, County Supervisor Joel Anderson says the county needs to step up its enforcement of illegal dispensaries, many of which are located in his back-country district that includes Alpine San Carlos and Spring Valley. Last week he urged his fellow supervisors to direct the district attorney’s office to “go after the landlords who are in bed” with the illegal dispensary operators by passing an ordinance that would allow the county to usurp their property. Anderson says 64 illegal dispensaries were shut down in six months and that they were responsible for illegal weapons, fires, and shootings and may very well be selling cannabis tainted with hard drugs or poison.

At their August 17 meeting the supervisors unanimously voted to approve the item.

There are five dispensaries that operate legally in the unincorporated areas of the County. Three are in Ramona including Releaf whose general manager Megan only wanted her first name used for this article. Megan says the switch of the board of supervisors to a Democrat majority in November helped the plight of the five shops in unincorporated San Diego County. The new board reversed a sunset ordinance that would have mandated all five close up shop in April 2022.

“The only person still on the board who doesn’t want medical or recreational marijuana is [North County-based Supervisor] Jim Desmond,” says Megan. “For the most part the other four support support what we are doing.”

The new board of supervisors has directed staff to put together a new comprehensive cannabis law that will allow those five dispensaries to also sell to recreational customers, and will allow them to increase the foot-print of their retail space by 10,000 square feet. Megan says that the five shops are united and do not support Desmond’s reelection next year. “We would not go out and fight Desmond, but we would support someone who would run against him who is more open to cannabis.”

Supervisor Desmond has been known to say, “I wouldn’t want a dispensary in my neighborhood, so I’m going not to vote to put one in yours.”

That new law will allow new dispensaries in the unincorporated areas of the county but not until the second half of 2023. Part of that new ordinance set to be brought forward in October, calls for a Social Equity Program that would provide individuals with past cannabis arrests and/or convictions with a greater chance to secure a county permit to operate any new San Diego dispensaries in the county.

Desmond is against the new ordinance and its social equity provision. “This is an absolute assault on the unincorporated areas of the county,” says Desmond’s deputy chief of staff Ben Mills. “We shouldn’t be rewarding bad behavior and that’s exactly what this ordinance will do.”

Meanwhile Vista’s Mellano and Christman say Supervisor Anderson’s focus on illegal storefront dispensaries does nothing to address the worst part of the cannabis black market. “It’s nearly impossible to track and trace [deliveries].” says Christman. “It’s an almost impossible endeavor to track who is driving around to deliver cannabis illegally.”

Vista loosens regs on medical pot2022-09-27T10:46:32-07:00

Escondido Debates Marijuana

2021-05-25T12:34:48-07:00

After delaying a discussion in March on whether or not to allow cannabis sales, Escondido has again hit snooze.

The city has been studying potential regulations since last August, but despite the fact that about half of residents support commercial cannabis, the council is still divided.

Public safety data showing a steep rise in adult DUI arrests and juvenile possession furthered the opposition.

Of three options discussed last week, three council members wanted to maintain the city’s 2018 ban on dispensaries. Two others favored rules that would legalize cultivation, processing, and retail sales of medicinal and/or recreational cannabis.

Another option would direct further study, including tracking of revenue trends and regulations in other cities.

A staff report noted that carving out rules for both recreational and medicinal use “arguably addresses public opinion regarding cannabis cultivation and use” ? as several speakers reminded the council.

“The lack of dispensaries and access to cannabis has become devastating,” said Karla Aguilar, who spoke about equity, including the hardship on those who lack transportation to obtain pot, which can necessitate a 30-minute drive. “We ask that black and indigenous and people of color have support to be able to sell in our city.”

Aguilar pointed out that California voters passed Proposition 64 to legalize cannabis in 2016, and many other communities have made it accessible. “I am disappointed yet again by this council, choosing to delay this conversation time and time again.”

Others pointed out that delivery is a phone call away. But it still means relying on delivery from outside Escondido.

Half of San Diego cities now allow cannabis for medicinal, recreational, or both uses. The rest prohibit it. The county is working on rules that would legalize sales for recreational use and create social equity to give more people a chance to participate.

By not creating an ordinance, cities face losing control, should voters propose a ballot initiative. In fact, by 2020 most ballot initiatives were initiated by city councils, the staff report said.

“I see this as something that is going to happen in our city, and I would much rather get ahead of it and us have control of where those dispensaries go,” said councilmember Consuelo Martinez.

“If we don’t take action this evening” ? if we decide to “just not take leadership of this controversial issue, then we’re really just folding our hands, burying our heads in the sand, and eventually, a ballot measure will appear,” she said.

“And who knows how many dispensaries will be coming to Escondido?”

So far, few cities have had dispensaries in place long enough to really know what the fiscal benefits will be. But La Mesa, San Diego and Vista, which have more than one or two longer-term dispensaries, earn about $50,000 annually per dispensary.

Estimates show that Escondido could generate over $2,000,000 annually in sales, assuming five dispensaries and a solid permitting and code enforcement process.

But first-year costs will be especially high, said city manager Chris McKinney. Developing regulations will cost $150,000 and as businesses open, code enforcement and policing will tack on $200,000.

Then there are the illegal dispensaries that crop up to compete with the legal outlets. All county jurisdictions that allow cannabis sales report more illegal operators opening after passage of a local ordinance.

Tax revenue may flow, but San Diego and Chula Vista have faced additional costs for code enforcement and catching illegal operators.

When cannabis was legalized statewide in 2016, illegal dispensaries boomed in Escondido. Over 30 were shut down. The city hasn’t had any since 2019, but expects a comeback if an ordinance is passed.

Councilmember Michael Morasco, who staunchly opposes all efforts to open dispensaries in Escondido, held to his view that most residents oppose commercial cannabis. Trying to find middle ground “puts us in an area where we have not wanted to be,” he said.

Neighbors Poway, San Marcos and others, like Solana Beach, have rejected it.

“I don’t care if we get one single tax dollar from cannabis.”

But the major concern of many opponents had to do with what McKinney said are “significant safety concerns.”

Police chief Ed Varso said adult DUI arrests for marijuana were up 320 percent from 2018 to 2020.

Youth possession also spiked over 300 percent from 2016 to 2019, including both middle school and high school cases. Known as diversion cases, the juveniles are diverted to a system called Compact that keeps them out of detention.

Data from Compact shows that in 2017, pot accounted for about 22 percent of diversion cases. In 2019, that rose to 74 percent, nearly three-quarters of all cases.

Mary Anne Dijak, manager of youth violence and prevention with Compact, urged the council “to put the brakes on this.” Cannabis was legalized before there were rules in place to keep kids safe, she said.

Comparing it to alcohol businesses, she said “it takes probably years to get rid of” a bad actor, arguing the same will happen if dispensaries open.

The dispensaries “will inevitably show up in areas where our most vulnerable kids are, who will have to walk past that every day.”

Mayor Paul McNamara said the black market isn’t going away. “It’s pretty much adults who can afford to go to a dispensary. So our youth are still at risk, whether we have dispensaries or not.”

Escondido Debates Marijuana2021-05-25T12:34:48-07:00

Happy 420 from San Diego Weeder

2021-04-20T14:48:34-07:00

We’ve spent over a year in lockdown because of the coronavirus. Let’s not forget who has been there for us every step of the way during our time of need: weed. Whether we were bored at home or feeling stressed out, a little reefer helped us fight the madness.

Today is the day we celebrate the wondrous nature of cannabis and all of its healing properties. Why 420? There are many theories, but the most popular and widely accepted remains the story of the Waldos. If you haven’t heard it ? back in the ’70s, a group of high school students would meet up at 4:20pm to get high, using the term ‘420’ as their stoner code.

Fast forward to today, it’s become the biggest holiday in cannabis culture. Dispensaries throughout San Diego promote their best and biggest deals of the year, plus many offer freebies, food and live entertainment. Join in the dispensary parties, or get delivery to your door – just be ready when the clock strikes 4:20.

Happy 420 from San Diego Weeder

Find 420 Deals & Discounts in San Diego

Happy 420 from San Diego Weeder2021-04-20T14:48:34-07:00

National City says no to marijuana

2021-03-17T13:41:11-07:00
Lounges were part of package

A year ago, as National City began drafting its first ordinance to allow commercial cannabis, the city council even voted to include consumption lounges.

Until then, the city was hardly at the forefront of cannabis law, having banned adult-use dispensaries weeks before California voters passed Proposition 64. But the proposal has hit a pothole.

On Monday (March 15), the National City Planning Commission voted to deny changes to the city code that would allow retail sales, distribution, cultivation, and manufacturing of medical marijuana.

Staff recommended approval, but only commissioner Damian Roman supported the amendments. Commissioner Ditas Yamane cited a “lack of information,” as the city council continues to hammer out the details of the zoning changes.

The new regulations would allow up to six businesses, including lounges, in the industrial zones and in the tourist commercial areas west of Interstate 5, where adults could buy, smoke, eat or drink marijuana.

According to staff reports, the tourist commercial zone currently allows for uses “consistent with consumption lounges and retail without having to make changes to the current zoning.”

In 2019 the city hired cannabis consultants HdL, who provided direction for the ordinance, community outreach and a fiscal analysis of the revenue that could be generated through a Community Benefits fee (a similar amount to a cannabis business tax) as part of the development agreement for each permitted cannabis business.

Surveys conducted by HdL found that more than half of respondents strongly support allowing cannabis businesses in National City (64.29 percent were National City residents). More than 60percent said they strongly support the use of medical marijuana.

The city’s prohibition on cannabis businesses is not unusual. Other cities with bans include Coronado, Del Mar, El Cajon, Escondido, Poway, San Marcos, Santee, Solana Beach, and San Diego County.

Those that allow medicinal-only cannabis businesses are Lemon Grove, Oceanside, and Vista. Cities that allow both medicinal and adult-use cannabis businesses include Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, La Mesa, San Diego and Encinitas.

Attorney Jennifer Gilman said National City’s ordinance will have to be brought into compliance with city and state regulations and again come before the planning Commission, but commissioners could choose one of three options on the city-initiated land use amendment: approve, deny or continue the item.

Commissioner Yamane recommended denial “based on finding that the land use is not a desirable or necessary use.”

National City says no to marijuana2021-03-17T13:41:11-07:00
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