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Cannabis Culture: Despite legalization, marijuana consumption still taboo in California

Olivier Rey / Red Dirt Report
Marijuana on display at Magnolia Oakland cannabis dispensary.
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SAN FRANCISCO – Since January 1st, Californians can consume cannabis for recreational purposes. Debby Goldsberry, the executive director of Magnolia Oakland, a cannabis dispensary, said she has more than doubled her sales since the legalization of recreational marijuana.

“It is legitimizing something that has always been ok, to begin with,” Goldsberry said.

Goldsberry opened the cannabis dispensary in 2009 to sell medicinal cannabis, which was legalized after the approval of State Proposition 215 on Nov. 5, 1996.

Cannabis, for medical use, can only be purchased from a licensed dispensary and requires a prescription from a doctor. Marijuana can be prescribed for an array of afflictions like insomnia, depression, migraines, and to alleviate chronic pain. 

“Chronic pain conditions are the main reason why people are coming, followed by very serious chronic health issues such as cancer,” Goldsberry said, adding due to low supply, patients are only allowed to buy eight ounces of marijuana at a time. Of that, only two ounces is allowed for recreational use.

Goldsberry added the marijuana consumed has to be produced in California. A new restriction enacted January 1st requires dispensaries to only purchase marijuana from licensed producers. This has resulted in further reducing supply while consumption has increased. 

“We can only buy marijuana from producers who have the matching license but most people don’t have those yet,” Goldsberry added.

The Magnolia Oakland shop, located at 161 Adeline Street, is facing a parking lot not very visible from outside. At the entry, a guard asks for identification and then a registration form is required in order to enter the main room. While in the main room, one wall displays pictures and information about the history of cannabis. Along the other wall, showcases present accessories, books, and pipes.


The front door of Magnolia Oakland cannabis dispensary (left) and a few of the accessories for sale (right). (Olivier Rey / Red Dirt Report) 

In the middle of the dispensary, a sofa and chairs are arranged for customers while they wait their turn or to consume the cannabis purchased. Because smoking is forbidden in the shop, only edible, topical and vaporizing forms can be consumed.

On the other side of the room, a showcase with numerous varieties of cannabis dried flowers- Black Diesel, Deja Vu, Lemonade, Taffy and Red Alien to name a few- are displayed.

An additional showcase displayed edible products, like cookies. Two cashiers stand behind the counter where they take customers' orders. Two screens display the different products with the amount of THC and CBD present along with the price, which can be as much as $72 for 1/8 ounce of "Red Dragon."

Inside of the main room at Magnolia Oakland cannabis dispensary. (Olivier Rey / Red Dirt Report)

Despite the legalization of marijuana for recreational consumption, the subject is still taboo in California. Only a few people I approached for an interview accepted and all requested to remain anonymous to avoid jeopardizing their jobs or judgment from family and friends. 

*Julie, a school teacher, has used cannabis for two years due to insomnia, after exhausting all options. She added it was her church that suggested she try cannabis.

“It helps a lot,” she said, adding she consumes only edible as she doesn’t like to smoke. “You have to be careful with edibles because they can be strong.”

Julie believes marijuana was a better option than traditional medicine to treat depression or stress saying, “You don’t feel addicted.”

*Kevin, almost 40, has smoked marijuana for over 20 years. He first started in high school for recreational purposes and then later for medicinal purposes due to chronic back pain. 

“I don’t like to use medication,” Kevin said. “I use marijuana because it is natural.”

He believes smoking cannabis is better than smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol.

“If they are making tobacco and alcohol legal, I think it is normal to do the same for cannabis,” he asserted.

Taboo or not, according to a study commissioned by the state regulatory agency, the legalization of marijuana in California could provide a 60 percent increase in annual sales and up to five billion dollars in revenue. 

Oklahomans will decide the future of medical marijuana in the state after Governor Mary Fallin set an election date for SQ 788 on June 26.

“Backers of this proposal to legalize medical marijuana followed procedures and gathered the more than 66,000 required signatures to submit the issue to a vote of the people,” Fallin said. 


*Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

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Olivier Rey

Olivier has traveled in 20 countries on six continents before landing in Norman. Native French...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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