San Diego

Business is Booming for Local Dispensaries, but Banking Still an Issue

The old saying, "More money, more problems," is proving true for marijuana dispensaries in California.

Business has been booming for shops throughout the county. But for the cash-centric dispensaries largely shut out from the federal banking system, the increase in customer traffic means there's an overflow of cash on hand.

Employees at Torrey Holistics in University City and Mankind Cooperative in Miramar were reluctant to share specific revenue figures for that reason, but they did give some insight into what foot traffic at their shops has been like since January 1.

Despite the 20-by-20-foot floor space at Mankind, nearly 1,000 customers visit the store per day, and many are from out of state, according to Marketing Director Kathy Bliss. 

Torrey Holistics' marketing manager Ruthie Edelson said daily customer traffic is close to 300 people since the first of the year, a considerable increase from the 100 or so customers that visited when the law was more stringent.

“It’s mothers, it’s grandparents, it’s parents with their children--so many variations,” Edelson said.

Apothekare in Kearny Mesa said it is averaging between $15,000 and $20,000 in sales Monday through Friday, and between $20,000 and $25,000 on weekends. The dispensary said it is selling more weed in one day than it was in one week before the law change.

A Green Alternative, an Otay Mesa dispensary specializing in delivery, said that online traffic for deliveries has increased sevenfold and in-store visitor traffic has quadrupled. Shop officials said it has sold more in the first week of 2018 than the entire month of December 2017.

Balboa Avenue Cooperative, in Kearny Mesa, said that sales have increased 20 percent.

As for the relationship between the widened availability of marijuana and DUI arrests in the county, it still might be too early to tell.

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department said it has booked 25 people on DUI charges (alcohol and drugs, including marijuana) but could not specify the suspected drugs in each case.

A San Diego Police Department spokesperson said it would be too difficult to tell how many DUI arrests the department has made just this last week, and California Highway Patrol did not offer data from 2018.

As of Monday, 17 dispensaries have permits to sell marijuana in San Diego and 12 of them are fully operational.

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