If it wasn’t for the smell, shoppers who wander into the bright red building along South Wright Street in Santa Ana might think they are walking into an Apple store.
The open room — covered in concrete, wood and steel — is anchored by long tables with rows of iPads waiting to be touched. But instead of showing off the latest apps, these iPads display the price and potency of hundreds of prettily packaged marijuana products, from flowers and waxes to breath mints and bath bombs.
MedMen Santa Ana is the latest licensed medical marijuana dispensary to open in Orange County. And, as its city-specific name suggests, it’s part of growing national chain of businesses managed by the MedMen brand.
The Los Angeles-based company embodies what many tout — and some fear — is the future of the industry, as the cannabis business transforms into a regulated, commercial marketplace.
“We’re unapologetically capitalist,” said Daniel Yi, spokesman for MedMen. “Our ambition is to be a national company.”
Their mission along the way is to “mainstream” marijuana, Yi said. In his view, that means normalizing the buying process for everyone and expanding the market beyond serious medical patients and closeted recreational users to groups like “Chardonnay moms” who want to swap their wine for weed.
For now, anyone 21 and over can enter MedMen’s Wright Street shop to flip through digital menus, though only people with medical clearance can actually buy product. Starting Jan. 1, state law will allow recreational users to buy cannabis, though it’s unclear if Santa Ana will allow recreational sales in the MedMen shop.
Until then, browsers can walk into the store and sniff color-coded flower strains through tiny windows in patent-pending bud cases and check out products from cannabis brands such as Beboe, which the New York Times recently called the “Hermes of marijuana.”