Happy 420, peeps! 🌿
As many of you know, California voters passed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, or Proposition 64, on November 8th, 2016, which established sales, cultivation taxes and legalized the sale, possession, growing, and consumption of cannabis to adults age 21 and older for non-medical purposes.
Proposition 64 legalized sales of cannabis products throughout the state, but that does not mean that consumers can find it everywhere: Only 89 of California's 482 cities allow retail sales. A paucity of legal retail drives people directly to the illegal market. Prop 64 was supposed to generate new jobs, taxes, entrepreneurship, investment, and opportunities for those hardest hit by drug laws. It hasn't, but that might soon change.
The optimism generated by the passage of Proposition 64 was infectious. Sacramento estimated it would collect as much as $643 million in new tax revenue in 2018-2019. That figure could only grow, according to lawmakers, advocates, and bullish investors.
But nowhere else is Proposition 64’s unanticipated short-comings more evident than in the dismally low number of retail licenses issued since becoming law. Retail is supposed to generate the most tax and create the highest number of jobs within the industry. But it didn't...surprise, surprise!
It might be the global pandemic of Covid-19 that actually saves California’s cannabis industry.
Why? As a result of the economic devastation caused by Covid-19, California is bracing for a severe economic downturn. Throughout the state, many jurisdictions, both large and small, are rethinking their prohibitions. Mayors, city councils, and county supervisors are looking at cannabis and the tax revenue that it can generate in a whole new light.
Just one successful dispensary equals hundreds of thousands of dollars in new tax revenue, while back-end processing could generate millions more. Faced with escalating unemployment and drastic reductions in municipal services, about a dozen California cities - from Sonoma to Yountville and Signal Hill to Lemon Grove - are exploring opening up licensing. Cannabis, it seems, is one of the few viable options.
At least in the short term, “Saint Covid, the California Cannabis Savior” as one industry insider put it, may actually provide some relief.
Truth be told, I have never been a huge stoner, but once Covid hit, I, too, thought the CBD route would be a good way to "escape the reality of the pandemic" and cope with the stress, loneliness, and uncertainty many of us were facing. I remember one of the first days in March of 2020 whereby my brother and I took my mom to a local smoke shop in Sherman Oaks (The Higher Path) in March of 2020 and got some goodz. Don't be fooled, my mom went with us for the ride and experience, but she didn't partake (since she has light asthma). Needless to say, I'm pretty sure she enjoyed and supported our decision to buy some CBD oils.
When I moved to Camarillo in June of 2020, I stumbled across this ZZYZX Smoke Shop when I was dropping something off at the Post Office, and decided to walk in to see if they had anything CBD related.
ZZYZX Smoke Shop opened 5 years ago, but this cool dude took over ownership 2 years ago...The name may have you perplexed, but the way to pronounce it is "ZY-ziks." In fact, the name does have a profound meaning, as it is the location of Camp Soda and Soda Springs. It's located at the end of ZZYZX Road, a 4.5-mile-long rural road off Interstate 15, in San Bernardino County, California. I've actually driven past it several times on my trips to Vegas and always thought it looked interesting. The town has roots of being a sacred and spiritual ground that was self-governed. There is a lot of hippie influence in the area as well, which makes sense as to why the owner of this smoke shop decided to name the spot, ZZYZX.
Not only is it pristinely clean and eclectic inside, but the man who runs the place is a true GEM of a human.
And that's what you want, right? To feel like you are in good hands, that you can trust someone, and that you are SAFE.
Furthermore, the shop sells some sweet Supreme, Dodgers, and Lakers memorabilia that you really can't find anywhere else.
Want a new hat? New shoes? A vintage Kobe Bryant jersey?
ZZYZX has you covered! And the prices are reasonable.
They even sell some really neat Pokémon and Dragon Ball Z swag.
This is more than a smoke shop, as you can see. There's literally something for everyone! Even dogs!
When I was in the shop today working on this interview, a nice man by the name of Durrell Mike-Prince walked in.
He's been coming to the shop for about two years and agrees that the customer service and expertise from ZZYZX is one of a kind.
He's also a fellow UCLA Alum (Go Bruins!) and a Laker fan. His purchase today was very meaningful and practical. He bought two Laker pins to use as golf ball markers.
Representing Kobe, LeBron, and the Los Angeles Lakers. That's what's UP!
The highlighted purchase for me is this amazing CBD roller that puts Icy Hot® to shame. I personally think it smells and feels DIVINE. Coming from someone who exercises and works out a lot, this relieves the pain pretty much instantly and it has an amazing cooling sensation that will have your muscle aches feeling fabulous in no time. Not to mention, the work I do as a photographer (shooting and editing photos) always has my neck aching. Thus, this CBD roller is the perfect item for someone that doesn't want to get "high". If anyone is looking to turn over a new leaf (pun intended!), I highly recommend (pun intended, yet again!) this CBD roller. I use it multiple times a day to relieve any pain and tension.
See below for my interview with ZZYZX:
RR: How has Covid-19 impacted you personally?
ZZYZX: "As a newly reopened small business, COVID’s impact was felt immediately. Zzyzx was strictly an in person retail business. Having to shut down for two months put us in a position to close our doors several times."
RR: Did you or anyone you know get Covid-19?
ZZYZX: "While none of our employees have gotten Covid-19, some of our customers, friends, and several family members have been unlucky.
RR: What specifically changed your personal / professional life during this time? I.E. What daily routine did you have to adjust?
ZYZX: "Zzyzx has adapted to offer our customers different methods of purchasing our products via online, delivery, etc. Many consider us an essential business and count on us to offer the best products available. We have also expanded our line of merchandise to deliver a wide experience when visiting Zzyzx."
RR: Is there a story behind your mask?
"Wearing a mask has shown a sign of respect to our community and society. We also support anyone with their own beliefs of our current situation. Honesty has always been our best policy."
RR: What do you miss most about life before Covid-19?
ZZYZX: "The large crowds and gatherings when we were at 100% capacity."
RR: What has Covid-19 made you grateful for?
RR: What has been the biggest challenge for you during this time?
ZZYZX: "There has been increased competition in our retail space. With our continued quality products and service, we are confident we will thrive in a crowded field of Smoke Shops."
RR: What are you most excited for when things return to “normal”?
ZZYZX: "We miss having our seasonal in store celebrations with in store raffles and giveaways. We will continue to keep giving back to the community that has supported us during these struggling times. We are excited when all new and old customers come and visit us again."
To check out the shop and see the goodz, be sure to visit, follow, and like ZZYZX on social media:
Yelp: ZZYZX Smoke Shop
Happy 420 to all those celebrating, and remember to stay safe and healthy!
P.S. Learned a little bit about cooking with cannabis while I was in the shop. Did you know some couples are ordering cannabis cakes for their weddings?!