Get ready to learn about cannabis delivery in 2019 in San Diego with Sam Humeid, President of San Diego Cannabis Delivery Alliance (SDCDA)
Before delving in with Sam Humeid, who is the SDCDA? SDCDA is the only San Diego cannabis trade organization focused exclusively on the needs of independent cannabis delivery operators. Cannabis delivery has long been part of San Diego, but today, the sector has been swept under the rug. Find out more!
Q: As President of San Diego Cannabis Delivery Alliance, what is the consensus of your constituents as it relates to Prop 64 and the recent Jan 9th deadline?
Sam Humeid: The sunset of the collective/cooperative model has left many legacy operators disenfranchised. Under Proposition 215 and Senate Bill 420, thousands of California’s cannabis industry pioneers were emboldened to pave the way for legalization to become a reality. Per Proposition 64, after the first license was issued on January 9, 2018 everyone in the industry would have one year to convert into a for profit organization and duly register with the various regulatory bodies in Sacramento. For delivery services that meant acquiring a permit from the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC).
However, to acquire a permit from the BCC an operator must procure a local license. In hindsight, a year was not enough time for the effects of social and political change to take hold. As witnessed in San Diego, City Council has been slow to recognize the hundreds of independent delivery services operating in the city and has yet to issue business licenses to them. This has left delivery service operators with limited options, partner with a licensed dispensary, relocate to a city that is permitting cannabis delivery, go out of business or go outlaw.
Q: How many non-profit delivery services has Prop 64 negatively affected?
Sam Humeid: In California, thousands of independent delivery service operators find themselves ostracized from the industry they help create. In San Diego, due to lack of permitting options, hundreds of operators have been forced to shutter or go underground.
Q: Which of your constituents have partnered with or become acquired by legally licensed dispensaries?
Sam Humeid: Southwest Patients Group in San Ysidro has absorbed many of San Diego’s largest delivery services. Operators like Alpha- Medic, Left Coast Collective and M-Delivers have been legislatively strong armed into relinquishing autonomy and becoming an accessory use of the dispensary. Dispensary newcomer, March & Ash has acquired Green Nectar Delivery which itself had recently grown through strategic acquisition of a handful of fledgling delivery services. While Urbn Leaf has partnered with the Eaze delivery app to facilitate on demand ordering.
Q: What is your organization doing and what can the people of San Diego do to push back against perceived over-regulation of cannabis as it relates to delivery?
Sam Humeid: The San Diego Cannabis Delivery Alliance (SDCDA) has been very active in forwarding legislative recognition of delivery services. We are in continuous contact with Council members of every city in San Diego County pressing for legislative development. The most common objection to licensing retail delivery has been lack of guidance from Sacramento. It was only recently that non-storefront cannabis retail operations were recognized with the creation of the state level Type 9 retail delivery license.
The November (2018) elections changed the political landscape in San Diego county and the SDCDA is actively engaged in educational sessions with newly appointed law makers while continuously advocating the incumbents to make legislative change. We know our legislative headway could not have been achieved without the support and engagement of so many brave constituents. Our cause is personalized when medical patients and recreational consumers show up to support our outcry for change. It is their letters, emails, phone calls and in chamber public comments that have the most impact. Without them, we are merely another business centric trade organization.
The biggest enemy of progress is apathy. Constituents must be determined and vigilant. While many feel their one letter or phone call isn’t going to make any change, they couldn’t be more wrong. Each communication is read and tallied and when the tally shows large numbers of constituents collectively making similar demands, lawmakers take notice. The elimination of legal access inadvertently created by Prop 64 should fuel the citizen base to demand safe access be restored through fair market competition.
Everyone deserves to have quality, lab tested cannabis products made available through legal channels at affordable prices.
Q: With less delivery operations in San Diego, how will this affect the supply and demand?
Sam Humeid: The sheer enormity of California’s illicit market heavily skews standard economic theory. There is an abundant supply of unregulated cannabis and no shortage of consumers satisfied with pre-legalization status quo. These consumers are happy to procure their products from their regular dealer or now underground delivery service without paying the exorbitant taxes. That said, licensed dispensaries in San Diego will surely see a small spike in revenues from orphaned consumers. However, the major upset to supply and demand will be the next few growing seasons when a significant segment of consumers begin cultivating their own cannabis. Under Proposition 64 each household may grow up to 6 plants for personal consumption and give away, no sales. With outdoor/greenhouse yields reaching 2 to 3 pounds per plant (sometimes more) and the advances of LED technology for indoor growing, personal cultivation is gaining broad interest. It won’t be long before a new subculture of cannabis connoisseur separates themselves from dispensaries to privately commingle and exchange skillfully grown craft cannabis among each other leaving the mass market commercial grade product for the tourists.
Q: Does SDCDA provide organized advocacy to address City Council members in San Diego?
Sam Humeid: Absolutely we do. The SDCDA garnered widespread media attention for our civic demonstrations at City Hall and in civic revolutions in Council Chambers. As one of California’s first permitted dispensary operators, (2006, Perennial Holistic Wellness Center) I am no stranger to the quizzical workings of city politics. SDCDA’s continuous presence on multiple news outlets combined with our council chamber theatrics and organized demonstrations drew conscientious attention from City Council members as well as Mayor Faulconer’s office. Having made a respectful splash, we earned the privilege of meeting many council members personally.
The SDCDA board of directors used those opportunities to educate them on the delivery market, the consumers it serves and the benefit it brings to community, less crime, tax revenue, more resources for first responders, etc. While they were all sympathetic to our cause they were still not ready to commit to any further ordinance changes inclusive of delivery as they had just done a 180 on cannabis regulation in historically prohibitionist San Diego.
Never defeated, SDCDA board members maintained a professional line of communication with all the council members, keeping them abreast of changing regulations and how it facilitates the easy modification of the retail cannabis ordinance to be inclusive of independent delivery services. I feel 10 delivery services per council district would marginalize the illicit market into non-existence. Turn to Denver, Colorado for a prime comparison. With similar demographics to San Diego, they now experience lower traffic fatalities, increased revenues for civic needs, and their black market is primarily involved in out of state trafficking. The main difference is Denver has a dispensary on every street corner. San Diego’s community culture does not need a dispensary on every corner, but it does have a consumer base in chronic demand which could be satisfied, discretely by local and licensed cannabis delivery services.
Q: What is Safe Access?
Sam Humeid: “Safe Access” is the security a consumer feels in procuring their cannabis products. It encompasses the well designed dispensary in a safe neighborhood as well as a cannabis therapy practitioner bringing the dispensary to the comfort and privacy of your living room. Most importantly, safe access is the medical cannabis patient’s right to readily acquire the particular strains and products that bring relief and well-being to them. That’s why it is so important for licensed delivery to be recognized quickly, as over 1 million people in San Diego County live in a “Safe Access Desert.” Meaning their cities have banned commercial cannabis activity and reaching the closest licensed facility is a major endeavor.
Q: Why does Safe Access matter post-Prop 64?
Sam Humeid: Safe access matters after Prop. 64 because there is still a strong demand for medical cannabis for consumption and research. While all cannabis is medical, in the recreational world cultivators will have to mass produce high yielding strains to quench supply and remain profitable. Ultimately this means fewer varieties available on the recreational market. While in the medical cannabis world, what works for someone battling cancer, does not necessarily work for someone dealing with MS. The anecdotal knowledge of an experienced cannabis therapy practitioner in combination with safe access to a broad variety of craft cultivated strains, is what helps patients avoid an expensive guessing game.
Q: Do you believe there is more hope for future Supreme Court rulings to revive the non-profit cannabis industry, OR for new state laws.
Sam Humeid: Sadly, many Prop 215 legacy operators who operated with the mission of cannabis as charity have been shut out of the legalization opportunity. Gardens that produced cannabis for vets, the disabled, infirm and impoverished have ceased harvesting as they are deemed outlaws now. There is so much to be learned from this plant and so many people find solace in it, I feel compassionate care and the spirit of Prop. 215 will find its way back onto legislative rolls. A significant percentage of cannabis industry professionals are eager to donate to 501c3 non-profit cannabis organizations. After all, we owe our fortunes to the hippies who risked it all and still gave it away with love and compassion.