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SF cannabis dispensaries draw large crowds as recreational sales begin

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The line poured out of the door of the Apothecarium’s Castro location on Saturday, the day retail cannabis sales began in The City. (Courtesy Enrique Sanchez/Apothecarium)

At least two cannabis dispensaries in San Francisco may have seen more customers than ever before on Saturday, when it became legal for authorized dispensaries to sell weed to any adult over the age of 21 without a medical marijuana card.

Beginning Saturday morning and continuing through Sunday, crowds of people lined up outside the Apothecarium in the Castro neighborhood to purchase weed. On Sunday, Medithrive in the Mission District had a revolving door of customers purchasing cannabis joints, drinks and flower.

The dispensaries were two of just six retailers in San Francisco with state authorization to sell cannabis for recreational use over the weekend. The California Bureau of Cannabis Control issued the permits late Friday after the San Francisco Office of Cannabis approved the businesses that morning.

“It was one of our very busiest days ever,” Eliot Dobris, a spokesperson for the Apothecarium, said of business at the Market Street location on Saturday.

Dobris said the Apothecarium received its city permit Friday morning but waited until three minutes before 5 p.m. — when the Bureau of Cannabis Control closed — to learn it could begin recreational sales Saturday morning.

“We were on pins and needles,” Dobris said.

San Francisco lawmakers had lagged behind when it came to rolling out local regulations for recreational use under Proposition 64. The first day of legal recreational sales in San Francisco came five days after cities like Berkeley became the first to sell weed to any adult over 21 years old on New Year’s Day.

“It was just really powerful,” Misha Breyburg, the co-founder of Medithrive, said of the first day of recreational sales while greeting customers to the shop near 15th and Mission streets on Sunday. “It really felt like a moment in history.”

Breyburg said he saw customers from “all walks of life” over the weekend who were mostly first-timers to Medithrive and not medical cannabis patients.

“This is the whole point, you have the most amazing different types of people and you don’t need to do it in somebody’s car in the back alley,” Breyburg said. “It takes the stigma away.”

Ishmam, a recent college graduate and bio-engineer visiting from Minnesota, walked out of Medithrive Sunday afternoon with pre-rolled joints. Ishmam said he came to California in part for the recreational weed.

“This is just kind of a novelty,” he said. “It’s kinda cool to see the industry taking off like this. I didn’t really know what to expect and it’s cool to see.”

Still, he refused to give his last name.

The Bureau of Cannabis Control also issued recreational sale licenses to Grass Roots at 1077 Post St., Harvest on Geary at 4811 Geary Blvd., ReLeaf Herbal Cooperative at 1284 Mission St. and The Green Cross at 4218 Mission St.

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