At the California Collective Care medical marijuana dispensary in the Northern California town of Vallejo, patients who stop in to buy cannabis can stock up on an assortment of household items such as pot-infused olive oil, butter, and barbecue sauce. The shop sells several hundred “edibles” each week, including brownies, cupcakes, and biscotti with weed baked right in. (Bet you can’t eat just one.) “There are a lot of people who come here that do not take cannabis through a cigarette or pipe,” says Mike Tomada, one of the founders. “They would rather eat it or drink it.”
Tomada’s dispensary, which opened about two years ago and draws from 60 to 100 people every day, is one of 15 marijuana businesses in Vallejo, according to WeedMaps.com, a website that tracks them. The city estimates there are more, at least 20. The pot business is about the only part of Vallejo’s economy that is thriving. The city of 116,000, 24 miles north of San Francisco, went bankrupt in May 2008. Businesses closed. Property values plummeted. Looking for ways to save money, Vallejo reduced its police force by 33 percent, from 134 to 90. The town doesn’t have local laws regulating the medical marijuana trade, and doesn’t have the money to challenge the dispensaries in court.