As I am being buzzed into the non-descript fortress South of Mission somewhere, I wondered about the nature of the security of this dispensary. They are a delivery-service only dispensary. No civilians pass this point. There were cameras sticking out from every corner and angle, and I had to go through a couple of badass doors before I could even set foot inside, then it a few more doors until I’m inside inside.
I’ve been in some dispensaries before, and because I have a side-line selling Cannabis-centric coffee mugs, I had been what I thought was the backroom of the Green Cross Dispensary. I was wrong. There’s a backroom to the backroom.
I was still wondering about security when the owner, Kevin Reed, showed me to the rumpus room/meeting room where we spoke.
“I should tell you that I’m a patient here,” I say in the way of an introduction.
“I know. When you came to the door, one of the former drivers recognized you and said, that’s Jack,” Kevin giggled subconsciously answering many questions at once.
I passed security.
“I hear you’re looking for a new building. Wanting to get back to the bricks and mortar,” I say knowing Kevin Reed’s story.
Kevin first start Green Cross Dispensary in 2004. The dispensary became too big for the neighborhood and Green Cross was shut down. After many negotiations and jumping through hoops with the City over possible locations, the best deal Mr. Reed could cut was to open a delivery service only dispensary. That is where the situation stands today, except that Mr. Reed is looking aggressively for a new location.
“I miss not having the physical space of a dispensary,” Mr. Reed says. “I miss the interaction with patients. I like to hear what medicine or strain that people like or maybe want more of. Now the best I could I do is talk to my drivers. They tell me stories about the patients or their experiences. I really get jealous.”
“How hard is it to get a dispensary in this town? I would think because you had one and had to move because of zoning laws, the City would be nice to you,” I ask like someone who really doesn’t know.
“I’ll give you an idea of what it is like to try to open a dispensary here. And no, I am not given any special consideration. I can’t open across from a methadone clinic. But a methadone clinic can open across from a dispensary. I was looking for a space on Broadway. A dispensary next to a strip club. There shouldn’t be many complaints with that location. But there was an elementary school within a thousand feet. No go. But a strip club could be there. That’s the kind of hoops we have to jump through.”
Kevin Reed is a very soft-spoken but becomes animated with subjects he believes in.
“I miss the daily confrontation with patients. That feeling or experience you can only get from being around something physically. Does that make sense?”
Definitely. Also Mr. Reed made it clear what you get with a bigger space with traffic.
“I can’t expand anymore than I have. I need more room. Also with more room, there’s more money involved. More money, the more change I can enact. That’s how you make a difference.”
Usually with that kind of talk, you expect the person speaking to be a greed-head. But not Mr. Reed, he’s been spending his own hard earn capitol since 1995, when he got involved with the movement in San Francisco after Prop. 215 passed.
I asked Rudy, one of the twenty or more employees that work for Green Cross, what’s it like to work here.
“The best,” says a smiling Rudy.
Looking around you can tell the staff is real cool with each other. Mr. Reed and I been playing pass the humongous spliff between as we talk. I bet it is a cool place to work.
“Do you ever put out an ad for workers in Craig’s List or if it a pretty much who you know kind of thing,” I wondered.
“No, we just took out an ad and filled a spot last week,” Mr. Reed says like any employer.
“It has to be the best job in the whole world. If I was twenty-six and worked at a dispensary…” Then I think I spaced out and went somewhere.
“We’re more like family than a business. But like any other business, people come and go. We’ve had lawyers work here. Lately, I’ve been looking for some kind of medical background.”
“Yeah, we learn from the people we hire. It helps us when someone already had the knowledge that we’re seeking. With the economy the way it is, there’s an awful amount of folks with a medical background looking for work. I’ve had people who went into law enforcement and other places where working at a dispensary might not be all that advantages.”
Kevin Reed has a very silly, goofy laugh that belies his standing. He’s really down to Earth for a big wheel.
“How about this neighborhood? Do they like you being here?”
“They love us.”
“Yeah. If there’s any trouble in the neighborhood, we let the police use our cameras.”
“You let the police come right in where we are. They can see everything and that’s cool?”
“Yes, it is…We invite them in. We are all legal.”
“Wow. I can’t imagine the cops in here. There must be ounces and ounces of WEED.”
“The police love us too. We help them any way we can. The lawyer, who drew up the needle-exchange program for San Francisco, is our lawyer. I spent good money to make sure I do all this right.”
Big question. Do you think Prop.19 is going to pass?
“The Indica is too good in California. We may have to rely on the absentee ballots. I’m afraid on Election Day; our people aren’t going to make it out of the house.”
“I don’t know,” Mr. Reed get serious. “Right now our numbers are too low. We need over fifty percent for by September, or it’s not going to pass. But that is okay. We need more time to get it right. This bill doesn’t go far enough. We need to decriminalize. That is the answer. Otherwise, whatever we do here in California, it’s still going to be illegal federally.”
Realizing that I could hang out with Kevin Reed all day, I kind of felt I should get going so I didn’t overstay my welcome, so I could come back another day when they get their new place.