After a quick consultation with Weedmaps I realize that, like Pasadena and Palm Springs, Long Beach has very few medical marijuana dispensaries but does have loads of delivery options. I bemoan on Twitter that it appears there is one walk-in dispensary in the LB and the Wikileaf Twitter account tweets back at me a link guiding me to their site, which does reveal options I did not see on Weedmaps.
I pick a location close to the art gallery we planned to attend and we set out. Parked next to a liquor store with the colorful name “Wine Mess,” we walk toward the address. I hadn’t seen a green cross when we drove past. Sure enough, when we get to the storefront, it’s no longer “The Giving Tree”—it’s empty. Another dispensary bites the dust.
Switching gears a few days later, I drive around the neighborhoods of Culver City without the aid of the Internet until I happen upon a place with the green cross. The dispensary is located near a Mexican restaurant, a Chinese restaurant and a fancy cupcake place. There are no fewer than four security cameras trained on the walkway leading to the door, but no signage offering hours open. I realize that it’s before noon, an atypical time for my visits, but the frosted glass door opens and I’m in.
The strong scent of marijuana hits me as I walk into a large room cut into two by a slatted metal partition. The receptionist behind the small glass window wears a backward baseball cap and sports an eyebrow piercing. She slides the paperwork under the glass; I take a clipboard and seat myself. A television in the room is off, while in the next room over, another customer sits with another big screen television that is on. In the time I’m there, at least four other customers go in and out. The customer ahead of me is called in to the buying area behind another door, and the receptionist tells me I can move to the next room.
Access Hollywood Live plays on the screen, close-captioned. There is no art to speak of, and nothing else to hold my attention, so I read the words for a bit. In the word stream, I see an error, a typo like many of the typos one might notice watching closed-captioned television, but this one makes me pause: a “high witness” as opposed to an eyewitness.
The customer ahead of me leaves and someone calls out, “Next customer!”
I enter the buying room, where Leo, the budtender, offers me the quick tour. Behind the counter are numerous boxes that look to contain, or have contained, computer equipment. Two white boards are on one wall, one describing a few of the specials offered, the other, blank. A short folding chair like one would take to the beach is in one corner of the room and I pretend to not notice an enormous glass water pipe on the floor that looks like it’s either ready for action or recently used. I ponder the glass cases and it’s all the usual offerings, along with a small refrigerator not even half-full of edibles. Since there is one budtender and I’m the only customer I feel a need to rush through my questions and observations. What I do notice, though, is that Leo is possibly flirting with me, an altogether unusual occurrence, in that I realize I’m usually accompanied, and there’s often more than one budtender. I stick my nose in a handful of proffered jars, note the unusual names (“Herojuana”) and the more common ones (any with a fruit in the name that often smell of the namesake). The digital doorbell has been ringing nonstop, which creates a small swell of anxiety in me, because the sound doesn’t seem to correspond with any doors opening anywhere, and has been sounding off and on at irregular intervals since I arrived. I’m in and out, an experience I don’t like to have when visiting dispensaries, but the doorbell is maddening.
It’s cut and dry. There is no dog bowl, no art or any decoration that would separate this place from any other, not counting the beach chair and water pipe in the corner of the buying room. I leave, and it’s like all the backed-up traffic on the street is watching me exit the blank frosted glass door. When I return home and look up the location on Weedmaps, it states they are open until 3am daily, a late-night availability I have not seen anywhere else.
Perhaps it’s better to have visited a low-key dispensary for this visit. Next month, I’ll trek to the OC, to a convention center located across the street from the Disneyland resort, to what is purported to be the “world’s biggest Medical Marijuana Mega Show”—which I’m certain will be far more distracting, as well as more entertaining, than a constantly ringing digital doorbell.