California Heritage Market welcomes pot farmers, billed as the first such district in Los Angeles County. Hundreds of people gathered in line as many took part in the Heritage in the baking heat Saturday to enter a Boyle Heights warehouse. At the same time, the city is cracking down on pot shops that don’t comply with Proposition D.
Inside the warehouse, cannabis farmers offered up their crop from glass jars labeled with gauzy names like “Blue Dream” and “Banana Kush.” Shoppers sniffed each musky container discerningly. A dizzying assortment of marijuana-infused wares beckoned from dozens of booths: balms and sunblock, organic waffles and soft pretzels, chai tea, cooking oil, lollipops in salted caramel, watermelon or key lime flavors.
Teenage and graying, tattooed and toting canes, the shoppers shared a simple goal: to cut out the marijuana middleman. Instead of heading to pot shops, they flocked to Boyle Heights to buy directly from growers — a marijuana marketplace akin to the farmers markets that speckle Los Angeles.
“The dispensary is so last decade,” quipped Los Angeles-area grower John Moreaux.
Paizley Bradbury, executive director of the California Heritage Market, said voters last year restricted the number of marijuana businesses that can operate — and now local patients have had fewer choices when it comes to cannabis.
“This opens it up for patients to reach lots of different cultivators,” she said. “They’ll be able to get flowers, concentrates, edibles, lotions…. And you can get 70% off the prices at a dispensary.”
Rachel Hartje sweated out a 45-minute wait Saturday to seek out deals and quiz growers about whether their cannabis was lab-tested for mold or contaminants. Her breast cancer recently went into remission after more than two years of treatment. With money tight as she fends off her illness, Hartje said it was worth the trip from Glendale for even a small discount on the oils and tinctures that ease her pain.
“Every little bit helps,” she said, toting a small bag at her side.
To get into the market, shoppers had to show documents and ID proving they were legally allowed to buy medicinal marijuana products. Bradbury estimated that roughly 2,500 patients packed the market when it opened Friday, more than twice as many as expected, and said the crowds seemed even bigger Saturday. As she fielded questions from a reporter, someone hurriedly handed Bradbury a cellphone.
“Sorry I haven’t been able to get back to you,” she told the caller quickly. “The market is crazy.”
Many shoppers were wowed by the bargains: A 62-year-old military veteran raved about the prices, showing off a plastic bag loaded with fluffy buds as he waited in line for another vendor. “Fifteen dollars for this?” he told a young woman standing behind him. “Now where are you going to get this for $15?”