A New Pot Dispensary Grows in Long Beach

Steve Propes

Longtime medical marijuana advocate, One Love’s Jeff Abrams, was on his honeymoon in Jamaica 43 years ago. “We came across a problem with welts” caused by local sea creatures. “We went for treatment and were told to take a pill. When we asked for a more natural solution, we were told that they avoided sharing with tourists.” Insistent, Abrams was told to wrap “ganja” into a banana peel, then remove it in the morning and the welts are gone.”

On the same visit, while on the rocks leading out to the sea, a policeman approached. Was Abrams holding any marijuana? No. Had any locals approached him about it? No. Would he be interested in getting some? Abrams was catching on. Those moments of Jamaican epiphany evolved into One Love on Broadway near Temple Avenue.

Abrams operates One Love with his wife and sons, Jeremy 31, of Long Beach and Matt, 35, of Huntington Beach, as well as son, Zack, 27, the store’s manager. It’s a full family affair, calling his, “the first family of pot.” In all there are 13 employees, not including the Platt security guards, a city requirement.

Outfitted with air filters, glass and wood counters and frosted glass by Citron Design of Long Beach, which used “local workers and professionals in creating the space,” One Love features a digital display of menus, information about strains and pricing on several screens behind the counter. Basically, an ounce can cost from $200 to $400.

All product is documented and supplied by licensed suppliers in-state, many from the Humboldt region. It’s generally trucked down in various vehicles, from 18-wheelers to U-Haul vans. There are many different vendors, all licensed by the state. After six months of operation, everything must be pre-packaged. There is an expectation there will be a brand loyalty issue.

Assistant to the City Manager Ajay Kolluri said that pre-packaging “was not a requirement per the voter initiative,” and for now, “the state is exempting vendors for a six month window, until July about these packaging requirements.”

“The state is regulating a cross jurisdictional product grown by cultivators, with distributors handling delivery. Dispensaries can be getting product from Humboldt,” said Kolluri. “The state does not allow cities from not allowing product into our jurisdiction. It’s workable.

Along with sales, Abrams is a strong proponent of education, what product is best for what ailment and how much to use. As mentioned, Abrams is hardly hesitant to speak at length as to how to use his product and how much is advised. He expressed willingness to address those who might need the product in the future. At CSULB, the OLLI university for those over 50 years of age has preliminarily scheduled a class on cannabis usage to be offered in the spring 2018 semester.

Abrams added, “for the last five and a half years, we have provided delivery service for the sickest customers. People like you and me, including 50 multiple sclerosis patients. These are group of patients who stayed with us. We don’t have to make a big noise.”

“Delivery is legal,” said Kolluri. “Only licensed dispensaries can deliver in Long Beach,” but he does know of out-of-town services that also deliver, which is illegal. Efforts are being made to crack down. “It’s difficult, we have different tools at our disposal,” which he chose not to specify, other than it’s “coordinated with the police department.”

Abrams estimates 90 or so delivery services currently operate outside the ordinance in Long Beach. He expects the city to enforce the law to limit delivery to existing dispensaries.

One area of concern to Abrams is the issue of second-hand smoke, especially those in multi unit apartment buildings. Abrams will soon be taking over the next door vape space, which he would like to open “a lounge as a safe space for smoking. With correct air filtration, there would be no problem with second hand smoke. Currently, on-site consumption is disallowed.”

Currently consumption is not allowed on the dispensary premises, though the state has given that authority to the cities,” said Kolluri. “There are arguments for or against consumption in businesses. We are trying to take things one step at a time. Opening is taking our full effort. I do accept there are issues we are going to have to deal with.”

Kolluri also noted, “the voter initiative requires business with two or more employees to enter into a labor peace agreement. They have to sign a statement about entering into a labor peace agreement.”

Abrams said, “everybody in the dispensary business in Long Beach is required to be part of the UCFW, United Commercial Food Workers Union,” which solves a nagging problem, that of opening a bank account, which takes away the cash-only business aspect. “The union has their own credit union, which allows us to use it. We don’t have to worry about FDIC. There is no downside to having a union.”

We are in the pioneer days of uncharted territories. “There is still a reefer madness mentality in our country,” said Abrams, referring to Lt. Governor “Gavin Newsom saying he’d protect our rights.” However, in latest developments, Attorney General Jeff Sessions appears to have an entirely different agenda.



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