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Dispensary Profile: Made Fresh Daily, San Diego, CA

10 March 2010 News 12,098 views No CommentPrint This Post Print This Post Email This Post Email This Post

You have to look pretty closely to find the Made Fresh Daily Collective in downtown San Diego. The dispensary is located in the bottom floor of a gleaming new office building, indistinguishable from neighboring offices where event planners and architects do their own work. The cooperative’s director, Aland Kay, said he’s spent around $20,000 renovating the space.

In a formidable New York accent, Kay explained that the location is not part of any business strategy.

“I spent about three months looking for this place, and honestly it was kind of an accident,” says Kay.

Like other dispensary owners in San Diego, Kay reports that landlords in the city are still wary about allowing collectives to operate in their buildings, which is why finding a place to set up shop was such a battle. The city is currently evaluating how to regulate medical marijuana facilities, and the lack of zoning ordinances that specifically address dispensaries has created a legal ambiguity that many landlords would just as soon not contend with.

The lobby, though outfitted with the requisite marijuana-themed reading materials, could otherwise belong to a travel agent or a dentist with a taste for local art. The work on the walls is provided by painter friends, providing a showcase for their painting and a little scenery for Kay’s customers. Patients hand their forms through a window to be verified, and are then let into a separate room with about 35 strains of dried flowers, plus an array of edibles and concentrates. High ceilings give the place a hip, modern feel.

The collective has only been in operation for about six weeks, Kay says, and they’re adding to their member rolls gradually. About 70 patients have joined the collective so far, many of them neighbors. A $60 cap on eighths and grams in the $10 to $20 range lands Made Fresh Daily in the bottom of the pile for prices in the downtown area. Higher rents and a more metropolitan setting mean that collectives in the area are generally more expensive than in other parts of town. In fact, some of the marijuana in Kay’s store is actually free. He said he’s trying to learn the ins-and-outs of cultivation, but admits he’s “not an expert grower,” so he offers his own harvest at no cost.

The cooperative’s location near the San Diego Chargers’ stadium is both a challenge and an opportunity, Kay says. When football season arrives, on-street parking in the neighborhood will be shut down by order of the city. That will make it harder for customers to reach the cooperative, which is already located within a seemingly arbitrary maze of one-way streets. On the upside, Kay says, there will also be throngs of pedestrians streaming past his door, so he thinks game days could be boon for him in the end.

One of the challenges Kay identified was the high cost of advertising, a complaint common among dispensary owners in this city. Kay says exorbitant pricing made things difficult for small dispensaries like his, who simply don’t have the resources to plunk down thousands of dollars per month for an advertising campaign.

Asked what made his shop unique, Kay hesitates before delivering what he worried was a “corny” response.

“I guess everyone probably says they care more, but I think that’s actually true,” said Kay. Kay knows first hand how important it is for his patients to have the safe access they need; he uses marijuana to address pain issues form a serious brain injury, and a tumor that’s lying dormant, for now.

He said he had sworn off the prescription drugs he used to use for his pain, and recounted times when he was unable to get safe access to the marijuana that he uses instead, like on his recent cross-country road trip from New York.

“I get 20-day headaches,” said Kay. “I don’t know if you’ve ever had a migraine, but almost a month of a migraine, it gets to be a little much.”

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