Pot Businesses Flourish in the San Fernando Valley

By David Konow 04/07/14

While Proposition D was designed to rid L.A. of its illegal pot dispensaries, some owners have smelled opportunity by catering to a more upscale crowd.

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In the San Fernando Valley, medical marijuana dispensaries are on practically every corner like 7-Elevens. Though some residents and business owners bristle at the idea of pot shops in their neighborhoods, no one can doubt that legal marijuana is an exploding business.

Ventura Boulevard magazine uncovered an interesting look at this modern phenomenon. The story examined marijuana shops as a growth industry with the Perennial Holistic Wellness Center in Studio City as its focal point. Apparently pot shops in Studio City have been flourishing because it is a fairly affluent community, and with rent going through the roof smaller businesses have been pushed out. But shops like Perennial are able to keep up because they offer customers high-end services like a juice bar and valet parking.

Proposition D went into effect last December, which regulates marijuana stores, but Sam Humeid, owner of Perennial, was undisturbed by the new regulations designed to weed out Los Angeles’ illegal pot dispensaries.  “We have nothing to hide,” Humeid told Ventura Boulevard.

Despite the upscale appeal of pot shops like Perennial, there have been complaints from Studio City businesses about their proliferation. A vegan restaurant lodged a complaint about smoke emanating from next door, while both CrossFit and Vendome liquors claimed they can smell pot and that it’s allegedly hurting their businesses.

But while the smell may be an annoyance, studies have shown that there has been no increase in crime in relation to pot shops. Even a senior police officer maintains that Studio City is still one of the safest areas in Los Angeles.

In speaking with Linda Grasso, editor of Ventura Boulevard, the idea that some pot dispensaries are catering to an elite crowd came as something of an eye opener. “Some of these places feel like high end beach spas,” she said. “They’re marketing them to the progressive California crowd. They’re not dark places, they’re very brightly lit, and they appeal to upscale clientele.”

“All kinds of people like to smoke pot to relax and unwind, like having a glass of wine,” Grasso continued. “There’s been a lot of change in this part of the Valley because of the rent going higher, and look who comes in.”

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.