Skip

The 411 on 420.
November 7, 2010 7:07 AM   Subscribe

Check Out This Joint: How WeedMaps turned marijuana reviews into big business.
posted by GrammarMoses (30 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've been struck by the advertising for SPARC, the so-called Apple Store of pot dispensaries. Their print advertising promises "we take the profit out of pot": their menu is transparent, they even have regular specials advertised on Twitter. In every way they are acting as a completely legal, above-board business.
posted by Nelson at 8:01 AM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've been struck by the advertising for SPARC, the so-called Apple Store of pot dispensaries.

Clean, protestant design? Check.
High-quality cannabis? Check.
Full-spectrum light? Check.

Legalize for medical use, prescribe for Seasonal Affective Disorder, provide commercial zoning incentives for SPARC, and the flyover states will never complain about brain drain again.
posted by clarknova at 8:28 AM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is there something in the Chicago Manual of Style that requires articles about marijuana to contain at least one hackneyed joke about how pot users are lazy and/or irresponsible? I imagine an editor grimly returning copy to a writer: "Sorry, Bob. I like what you did where you imply pot users didn't vote to legalize pot because they were too baked, but I'm going to need at least one use of the word 'munchies', and instead of 'marijuana cigarette' could we use 'joint' or 'spliff' or 'blunt' or something more, y'know, street?"
posted by logicpunk at 8:38 AM on November 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


Just in case it doesn't go without saying, I strongly support legalization.

Still, I get a bad feeling when I visit SPARC's web site and see it describe the "medicine" as having "delicious flavor and aroma".

This kind of unapologetic wink-wink cynicism is already a cancer in most other institutions of American life. And even if medical care is already one of them, it seems like a trend worth resisting rather than reinforcing
posted by Joe Beese at 8:43 AM on November 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Still, I get a bad feeling when I visit SPARC's web site and see it describe the "medicine" as having "delicious flavor and aroma".

Do you get the same bad feeling when you walk into your local pharmacy and see the big sign with all the different flavors they'll put in your (non-THC-based) medicine? There's nothing wrong with enjoying a prescription.

I agree with the wink-wink cynicism, but hell, if you're going to have a stupid system that all but encourages people to game it, then people are going to game it.
posted by Etrigan at 8:50 AM on November 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just for the record, SPARC is a legal, above-board business. They are fully licensed by the City and County of San Francisco, have permits for everything, went through the Planning Commission and every other process required by the city, are fully ADA-accessible, and pay all of their taxes, including sales taxes. As are all of the other dispensaries in San Francisco.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:07 AM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm all for legalization too. But the wink-say-no-more "it's all medicine" crap is ridiculous self-righteous hypocrisy. Or else San Francisco has some terrible environmental problem that causes social anxiety disorder in a shocking percentage of young, otherwise perfectly functioning people. A disorder that comes mostly on weekend evenings, and is only curable by "uplifting effects and intense visual experience" or "energetic, interactive, mind blowing sativa high".

When I said SPARC is acting as a legal business, I didn't mean to imply they aren't. Quite the opposite, they appear to be acting so publicly and transparently it's a breath of fresh air compared to the sleazier pot dispensaries that were in the first wave. But "legal" is a bit complicated right now, particularly since the federal government has been very clear they don't consider California's medical marijuana dispensaries to be legal under federal law.

The whole state of marijuana legalization in the US is stupid. The only good news is the current detente has allowed a social experiment where it's been shown that 10 years of legal marijuana sales has had few harmful effects on California.
posted by Nelson at 9:16 AM on November 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


But the wink-say-no-more "it's all medicine" crap is ridiculous self-righteous hypocrisy.

How so, when it is (currently) only legal for medical use? It's not like they can just come out and say "Come on down and get baked! Have a party!" During Prohibition, physicians could prescribe alcohol to patients, and I have no doubt that the lingo around doing so was similar. This is not a new phenomenon.
posted by rtha at 9:28 AM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I knew the stuff was expensive. But wow, it's expensive.

I'd say something clever about being lazy and baked, and having a job, but I can't make it happen. Maybe someone else can pick up the torch blunt.
posted by Askiba at 10:03 AM on November 7, 2010


With prices like that, I'm not seeing the "nonprofit" side.
posted by jellywerker at 10:12 AM on November 7, 2010


The prices at SPARC are competitive. You'll pay $40-50 for an eighth on the street in SF.
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:16 AM on November 7, 2010


@wemayfreeze: Exactly, and those dealers are certainly making a profit. I guess the overhead for their fancy location and website adds up, but I just expected things would be cheaper.
posted by jellywerker at 10:30 AM on November 7, 2010


Alright, so I'm from Los Angeles originally and transplanted to San Francisco. Currently, I am in the UK working to un-kill the electric car.

With the electric car, one of the common questions is "is it unsafe to have a 30KV AC line going into something that is sitting in your car park? What if you get shocked?"

At a conference last week, the answer came in this form:

"Now imagine that all cars were electric. And than someone came up with the ICE concept. 'I have a new system for mobility. Basically, we use a very complex process to extract toxic sludge from the difficult part of the earth. We then build hugely complex refineries, distill the sludge into a more volatile version and ship that across the country.

'Once it arrives at the local market, it will be kept in an underground tank until someone pulls up a vehicle and then uses a high-pressure nozzle to spray the liquid fuel into a smaller tank. They leave the station and can accelerate a 4 tonnes mass to 100km/h in 8 seconds. Any takers?'

If that scenario did come up, one of the first questions would be 'what is the certification process for delivering a high-pressure stream of explosive fuel from one tank to the other'. Aka who makes sure you can pump gas?

Point being that it's all about perspective then isn't it.

If I played the same exercise with marijuana and stress relief.

'you've had a stressful day at work and you come home. You want to relax and...

Option 1: For $3 a day, you get a small pill you take in the morning. The man who gives you this pill has probably never taken it himself but has heard it will help you relax by adjusting your perspective. It takes 30 days to get on, 30 days to get off and if you have any thoughts about self-harm, please contact your local medical care facility immediately.

Option 2: For $10 – $50 a night, you can sit either in a public location or a private location and imbibe a natural sedative in small or large quantities. This sedative comes in strengths of 3% – 50%, thus allowing you to titrate your dosage on an as-needed basis. Unfortunately, this solution has a time-lag and it's very easy to overdo the dosage. There have often been reports in test subjects of violent outbursts towards others, unsafe sexual behaviours, and lack of considering the consequences when driving a motor vehicle.

Option 3: For $10 - $20 a night, you can sit in either a public location or a private location and imbibe on a natural sedative in small or large quantities. This sedative comes in a variety of strengths, thus allowing you to titrate your dosage on an as-needed basis. If you over indulge the consequences include falling asleep, brief psychotic episode or potentially obesity. There have rarely been reports in test subjects of violent outbursts however prolonged usage can affect overall personal motivation and hygiene.

Sigh. Talk about first-mover advantage in the form of a clydesdale.
posted by nickrussell at 10:43 AM on November 7, 2010 [12 favorites]


It's an anti-sedative in my brain. I just can't sleep if I'm stoned. OTOH, I can clean house like a mad man.

Ritalin does one kind of thing for one type of brain (settles down ADHD brains) and a different thing to other brains (acts like speed).

It wouldn't surprise me if a number of psychoactives have dual effects.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:52 AM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I guess the overhead for their fancy location and website adds up, but I just expected things would be cheaper.

Their rent, their website, the business license costs, paying their employees and the costs associated with that (health insurance, for instance). And whatever retainer they pay their lawyers.

Why do you assume it will be cheaper to buy something (anything, really, doesn't have to be an illegal/semi-legal thing) from a place that has a lot more costs it has to take care of than the guy shilling the same item on the corner?
posted by rtha at 10:54 AM on November 7, 2010


Yeah, "non-profit" doesn't mean people don't clock out with money at the end of the day.
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:59 AM on November 7, 2010


I guess all I needed was a little clarification. Thanks guys.
posted by jellywerker at 11:10 AM on November 7, 2010


Option 2! Option 2!
posted by Greg Nog at 11:25 AM on November 7, 2010


That's just the booze talking, Greg Nog.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:04 PM on November 7, 2010


Why do you assume it will be cheaper to buy something (anything, really, doesn't have to be an illegal/semi-legal thing) from a place that has a lot more costs it has to take care of than the guy shilling the same item on the corner?

The obvious assumption here is that the legal status should remove the enormous premium for selling an illicit product.

If I'm likely to go to prison for a long time for engaging in a particular transaction, I want my compensation to reflect that. Take away the prison option, you should get much more competition, and with that, massively reduced prices.

That doesn't appear to be happening here though, and people are obviously curious as to why not. Same thing is true of the Dutch coffeeshops as well, I guess.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:10 PM on November 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


if you're going to have a stupid system that all but encourages people to game it, then people are going to game it.

Yeah, hate the game, etc. The entire situation is nonsensical. We have a Schedule I drug that no one has ever proven to be any more harmful than alcohol or cigarettes, and in fact has been shown to be significantly less harmful.

What up, voters?
posted by mrgrimm at 12:12 PM on November 7, 2010


That doesn't appear to be happening here though, and people are obviously curious as to why not. Same thing is true of the Dutch coffeeshops as well, I guess.

I imagine it has a lot to do with what the market will bear.
posted by rtha at 12:31 PM on November 7, 2010


Not to mention that dispensary owners are, in fact, risking federal prison. Any (or all) of them could be busted by the Feds at any time, despite the legality of what they're doing on the state level.
posted by vorfeed at 2:00 PM on November 7, 2010


If the numbers in the media are correct, BC's cannabis industry is a or the major industry. It is produced in staggering quantity. It is being used up somehow—hard to believe it's all being smoked.

Some folk postulate that if home-grow quantities are decriminalized, or legalized, BC's economy will implode. It would be on par with losing forestry or farmland.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:12 PM on November 7, 2010


I often see comments on SPARC and the other legal dispensaries along with nudge-nudge, wink-wink line, like it's absurdly easy to get product for them. Is this actually the case, though? I have a decently strong motivation to use their services, but not a medical condition that would make it easy to ask my doctor for a prescription. Is it just a matter of finding my local Dr. Spaceman who has a rep for writing prescriptions for anyone who asks? I like my doctor, on the rare occasions that I need to see her, and couldn't fathom either asking her for a prescription or going to see another sketchy doctor for one. Seems to me like the current system is working as it's intended.
posted by crawl at 2:54 PM on November 7, 2010


five_fresh_fish: where would it be going if it was not being smoked?
posted by nickrussell at 3:17 PM on November 7, 2010


Hold on, this Google Maps mashup makes $400,000 a month? Ugh.
posted by geoff. at 3:33 PM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


crawl, sandwiched between the ads for prostitutes and for marijuana stores in the local alternative newspaper are ads for "medical marijuana physician evaluations". I believe the going price for an evaluation is $100. Now I've never met one of these fine doctors and don't want to cast any doubt on their medical qualifications, but I'm guessing that if someone advertises himself as "The Pot Doc" then there's a pretty likely outcome of the evaluation.
posted by Nelson at 3:41 PM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, so many dispensaries in Pasadena. There must be a veritable plague raging through the city.
posted by mecran01 at 4:46 PM on November 7, 2010


"That doesn't appear to be happening here though, and people are obviously curious as to why not. Same thing is true of the Dutch coffeeshops as well, I guess."

In my experience, the shift in the market hasn't been in prices per weight, but rather potency per weight. You end up paying about the same or a little more for a gram of weed as you do in places where it's not legal, but if you compare, say, White Widow or Jack Herrer, much closer to apples-to-apples, you find that you end up paying a lot less per gram than you would have on the "street" (delivery, really). The quality that used to go for $70 now goes for $40.

It's similar to prices of televisions — a TV costs about the same as it did ten or twenty years ago, but the features and resolution are so much better that they've essentially forced the older models off the market.

The weirdness for me now is knowing guys who deal or who grow, and the weird shift that's happened. The dealer essentially just picks up everything at a dispensary with a card, and serves as a convenience service — the shops aren't open at midnight. The grower holds back a fair amount of the highest quality buds and sells them to private buyers rather than the dispensaries that take the bulk of the harvest.

So, the dispensaries have undeniably made the recreational weed market here much, much better.
posted by klangklangston at 10:24 AM on November 8, 2010


« Older Nicaragua invades Costa Rica   |   The man with no face gets a face Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post