“San Diego cannabis retailers say the first month of recreational marijuana sales has been far stronger than expected, testing their ability to handle crowds and to deliver pot to people’s homes with the speed and efficiency of Amazon.”

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San Diego Union Tribune: Gary Robbins, Contact Reporter

“Retailers also say the sale of “adult use” marijuana — which began on January 1st — has led to a surge in older customers. Some want cannabis to ease medical conditions. Others just want to take the edge off.

“We’re getting a lot of soccer moms from Carmel Valley and Del Mar who are looking for an alternative to a glass of wine,” said Rocky Goyal, who founded the Apothokare marijuana stores in Kearny Mesa and Mission Valley.

None of the stores have released sales figures, which only have to be reported to the state on a quarterly basis. But retailers who run seven stores in San Diego told the Union-Tribune that demand has remained strong since January 1st, when long lines formed at dispensaries.

Will Senn, founder of Urbn Leaf, estimates that his store in Bay Park will pay the city at least ,000 in local cannabis taxes for the month of January. The figure indicates that the store will do upward of .5 million in business this month, and that the figure could be far higher.

The store had 55 employees in December. Now, it has 220, roughly half of whom are delivery drivers. Senn also operates a store in the Stockton section of San Diego, and plans to open one in Middletown, near Little Italy.

“The amount or marijuana we’re selling in Bay Park is double what we expected,” Senn said. “A lot of people who are in their 50s, 60s and 70s who used to consume are coming back into the market now that cannabis is legal recreationally.

“We had four people in their 80s come here yesterday on the shuttle bus that we operate between the store and Ocean Beach.”

Goyal said, “I didn’t expect this kind of increase. I thought that if you didn’t use recreational cannabis before January 1st you wouldn’t just wake up and say, ‘Now that it’s legal, I should do it.’ We’re getting a lot of first time users, and a lot of people who used to use cannabis, then stopped, and are now curious.”

Zach Lazarus, co-founder of A Green Alternative in Otay Mesa, says, “We’re getting recreational users who are also medical customers. They’re looking for help easing their pains.”

At Torrey Holistics in Sorrento Valley, “We still have lines of customers that begin about noon and which last on-and-off into the afternoon,” said Ruthie Edelson, the company’s marketing director.

The Mankind Cooperative in Miramar reports that there have been many days in January when the store has attracted more than 1,000 customers, many who were tourists.

Retailers say that many customers are surprised, and sometimes bewildered, by the wide array of cannabis products on the shelf. They can buy everything from the traditional flower to creams, drinks and food that have been infused with marijuana.

“We’re doing a lot of education when it comes to edibles because you can have a really bad experience if they aren’t used properly,” Goyal said. “We don’t want that to happen and have someone say, ‘Hey, this isn’t for me.’ It’s bad for the customer and bad for the industry. We’re teaching people about dosing.”


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More info on Green Rush: San Diego reports brisk business during first month of recreational marijuana sales

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