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Are Weed Boutiques the New Wine Shops?
MedMen

Now that recreational weed use is legal in Cali, locals and out-of-towners can’t help but wonder: Where can you get it? What are the rules? Is it sketchy or what? We visited the West Hollywood outpost of MedMen, a chain of six state dispensaries, where the sleek counters and helpful staff make the whole experience as appealing as a trip to Silverlake Wine. Here’s what you need to know.

So, what are the rules?
You must be 21 and over, so bring an ID (an out-of-state ID is OK). You can purchase up to an ounce of cannabis and eight grams of cannabis concentrate (full disclosure: we don’t even know what that is). And there’s absolutely no smoking on the street or in your car—your purchase has to be sealed and carried home unopened in your trunk, like alcohol. 

Can I purchase at any dispensary, now that it’s legal?
Well, not every municipality has finalized its licensing, so for now only certain locations, like West Hollywood’s outpost of MedMen.

Why is everyone lined up on the street outside?
As at a popular club, security guards line up guests to wait their turn so that it doesn’t get too crowded inside. (But unlike a popular club, you’re not going to get turned away for a bad outfit.) 

What does a dispensary look like inside?
Imagine an Apple store crossed with a wine boutique and Dylan’s Candy Store and you’re beginning to get the picture (at MedMen, anyway). Think low, distressed-wood tables inset with bowls of marijuana buds, so-called dabs of marijuana concentrate and even chocolates laced with the stuff. IPads explain the chemical content of each offering, and the walls are lined with shelves of ancillary cannabis-laced products like gummy candies, vape pens and even, um, personal care products.

I’m feeling overwhelmed just reading about it.
It is kind of overwhelming, as is the resinous scent of marijuana’s terpenes, as I learned the fragrant oils are called, wafting out of the shop. But your nose acclimates quickly, and we found one of the red T-shirted “budtenders” more than happy to answer our million questions (including What would make a great present for my friend’s birthday?). After patiently explaining everything from different ingestion methods to how to try edibles (start slowly), he recommended a collection of $12 cannabis-infused bath bombs. (Postscript: They were the envy of everyone at the party.)

What’s the crowd like?
The next time Jerry Brown needs to cast a “we all love L.A.” ad, his people should come here. A 21-one-year old Asian woman with a shaved head crossed paths with 60-year-old white dude in cargo shorts. A Latina grandma was in line next to me with her grandson. A black customer related his experience vaping to me, and a neck-tattooed hipster toted up my purchases with a smile. Everyone seemed super-upbeat and friendly. Maybe it was the THC in the air getting to me (kidding) but—apologies to Disneyland—this seemed like the happiest place on earth.

OK, what’s the catch?
It’s not a quick experience; expect to wait in line, possibly as long as an hour. And, as with wine, there’s a lot involved in truly understanding it. Lastly, this all gets expensive—from $30 to $70 per eighth of an ounce (estimated to create four joints). That’s before the 25 percent taxes are added on top. So, like a Louis Latour Chardonnay, getting really into this stuff can get costly, but it’s nice to know there’s a luxe shopping experience that comes with the price tag.

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