1st Impression in San Francisco: Medical Pot Dispensaries Not as Noticeable as in Denver

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After a relatively long delay on United Airlines – which has become par for the course in my experiences with the carrier – I arrived in San Francisco yesterday eager to see first-hand how the industry represents itself in the community.

First a little context. I’m here to attend the Medical Marijuana Conference 2011 on Thursday and Friday. The event, sponsored by DealFlow Media, (which publishes the Marijuana Business Report), looks to me like one of the only credible, serious and useful industry conferences in the United States when it comes to the business side of the industry. But I’ll talk more about the event later this week. I flew out a few days early to meet with some players and dispensaries in the industry, though arranging some advanced interviews proved difficult given all the suspicions in this industry.

Now back to the main topic of today’s post. My impression of San Francisco’s medical marijuana industry? I can sum it up in one word: nonexistent. I live in downtown Denver, where you can’t drive more than a few blocks without seeing a pot leaf or a green cross on a storefront. Sure, Denver is much small than San Francisco. At the same time, there are just 26 permitted dispensaries in San Francisco vs. a much higher figure for Denver. So I certainly figured the industry would stand out more in the Mile High City.

But I still thought I would see one or two here and there in San Francisco (both those with permits and those without). But I haven’t randomly stumbled across any dispensaries, and I explored chunks of the city on foot over a period of about three hours in the late afternoon/early evening.

According to Weedmaps.com, most of the dispensaries are located southwest of Union Square, a tourist favorite. There doesn’t appear to be any in Fisherman’s Wharf and Embarcadero. Granted, in Denver the marijuana dispensaries aren’t smack dab in the middle of, say, the 16th Street Mall. But they do seem to be everywhere else, and they are noticeable.

Anyway, those are my first impressions of the medical marijuana industry here. I’ll let you know what else I discover along the way.

Chris Walsh is the editor of Medical Marijuana Business Daily