The first of what is expected to be 36 licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego opens its doors this Wednesday, and NBC 7 got an early look inside.
A Green Alternative sits in a commercially zoned area of Otay Mesa, in a strip mall on Roll Drive, east of State Route 905.
The nearest neighborhood is almost five miles away, and the nearest residence is a prison two miles away.
Co-owner Dr. David Blair, a San Diego State University professor, said city restrictions are tough but he wants A Green Alternative to be the safety standard for all future dispensaries.
Blair and his partners built a medical marijuana dispensary that is fortified more like a bank.
“Nothing will go through this glass, absolutely nothing,” Blair said.
The doors and windows, as well as panels in the walls, can stop a bullet. The products and money are stored in a giant safe with room for 12 people.
“This is not only a fire-rated safe, but a safe room,” Blair said.
Blair said the facility and license process cost nearly half a million dollars. A Green Alternative is the first licensed facility in the city and the second in San Diego County.
“We never were combative with the city. We followed the directions. It was just that simple,” Blair said.
In the first month, Blair expects to serve 7,500 to 10,000 people. The dispensary is open from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. seven days a week, and it will have 30 different marijuana strains and edible products.
“All of our vendors have to pass the same background checks that our associates and we do,” Blair said.
Getting from the back alley culture of medical marijuana in San Diego to legitimate sales and treatment was hard-fought but worthwhile, the co-owner told NBC 7.
It's his business, but with HIV and diabetes, Blair is also a patient.
“I'm a different person. I am able to be functional,” Blair said of marijuana’s use in his life.
Because lines outside dispensaries are against the city code, A Green Alternative has two more shop spaces here in the strip mall for those with recommendations awaiting their turn.
Blair said barring any issues at Tuesday’s inspection, the soft open is scheduled for Wednesday, and the grand opening is Friday.