It’s possible you think marijuana — otherwise known as pot, weed, bud, and its official name, cannabis—is popular only among Millenials, Baby Boomers who were stoners in their youth, or those who have serious medical conditions. And while all of those groups are among the 23 percent of California adults over 21 who have used cannabis products in the past six months or so, according to a study by BDS Analytics, a cannabis business intelligence company, the average cannabis users are parents in their 30s and 40s.
While it’s not possible to legally purchase marijuana without a medical marijuana card right now, after the first of the year, the rules change. And pot is already a big business in California. According to USA Today, the commercial cannabis market has reached $21 billion, and by 2020, adult use and medical marijuana sales are expected to reach nearly $23 billion.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are an estimated 1,000 medical dispensaries in California in 2017 (Cannabis Industry Association and California Grower’s Association). And nearly 30 of those dispensaries are in San Francisco. One of them is The Apothecarium Marina, a family-owned medical cannabis dispensary on Lombard Street (at Scott), which opened its doors in July. A sister to The Apothecarium’s flagship store in the Castro, this new dispensary is the only one north of Post Street in the city and south of Fairfax in Marin.
AN ELEGANT SETTING
Walking into The Apothecarium is a bit like entering a high-end wine bar or boutique. Its palette of creamy colors is complemented by black-and-white accents, hardwood floors, and a coffered white ceiling illuminated by hanging lamps and a sparkly chandelier. The long, pale faux-marble bar dominates one side of the spacious sleek room, and fresh flowers and clusters of velvet-seated chairs provide a lavish touch. Architect Vincent Gonzaga and interior designers from Urban Chalet, the same team who designed The Apothecarium’s flagship Castro store, also designed this space.
According to company co-founder and executive director Ryan Hudson, “The Apothecarium is known for serving patients with serious medical conditions and for being the dispensary where you can feel comfortable bringing your mother. Whether you are dealing with chemotherapy, insomnia, or chronic pain, our patient consultants are trained to help you select the right medicine and dosage for your needs.”
Medicine and patients are key words here. To gain access to The Apothecarium, one must have an up-to-date medical marijuana card obtained by a physician (although potential new customers are invited in to take a look without buying). The dispensary is one of the few in California that batch-tests all of its products for purity, and it has a medical director on staff to educate both employees and prescribing physicians.
One day a month the dispensary opens its doors to UCSF oncology staff, including doctors, physicians’ assistants, and nurses as part of a formal education program on cancer and cannabis to learn as much as they can about marijuana’s
medical benefits, and according to Davis, Kaiser is following suit.
The Apothecarium also offers free support groups to patients, donates to community nonprofits, and schedules regular dispensary tours to physicians and other health care providers.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Why open a dispensary in the Marina, especially when met with resistance from local organizations including the Cow Hollow Association? Davis says, “We looked for a second location for more than two years, noting the clustering of dispensaries in the south side of the city. This [the Marina] is an underserved population, and also, we probably have at least 2,550 patients who already use our store.” Davis says now that The Apothecarium on Lombard has been open for a couple of months, there has been a welcome reception from nearby merchants. When asked how the demographics in the Marina differ from the Castro, Davis says, “It’s still early, but I would say that there are more older female patients in this location.” And what draws patients in? “The big three are pain, insomnia, and anxiety.”
WHAT TO KNOW
Most medical marijuana falls into one of two categories: sativa, which helps patients feel more energetic, alert, and creative; and indica, which promotes feelings of relaxation and calm and is often used to help with insomnia. There are also many hybrid strains that are a combination of the two.
What will happen in January 2018 when marijuana becomes legal in California? “”Honestly,” says Davis, “We don’t know exactly what to expect, but probably there will be an uptick in casual users and the ‘soccer mom’ crowd.”
One thing’s for certain: marijuana sales, The Apothecarium, and San Francisco’s other dispensaries are here to stay.
The Apothecarium: 2414 Lombard Street, 415-408-6986, apothecarium.com. Daily 11 a.m.–8 p.m.