When Cypress Hill released their second album, Black Sunday, in 1993, the CD liner notes included 19 facts about cannabis, including several notes about the plant’s medicinal and wellness benefits. Though listeners to the record–which debuted at number one on the Billboard charts that week with the strongest Soundscan score of any rap record up to that time–probably wouldn’t have needed to read the booklet to guess that the group was generally marijuana friendly. A scan of tracks titled “I Wanna Get High,” “Hits from the Bong,” and “Legalize It” might have been a clue.
Now, almost exactly 25 years after Black Sunday dropped, one of Cypress Hill’s principle MCs, B-Real (Louis Freese), is preparing for a new debut. On August 15, the man who once rapped, “Hello, my name is Dr. Greenthumb” (and, a couple bars later, that the “DEA can’t keep Greenthumb in check”) will open a new, high-end medical and recreational use marijuana shop called, naturally, Dr. Greenthumb’s Dispensary.
Dr. Greenthumb’s aims to be among the first of the current wave of modern cannabis retailers to open in the San Fernando Valley, with a large, sleek location in Sylmar.
“Sylmar is our backyard so to speak,” B-Real says of the location. “For my team, it is practically where it all started. Where the beginning of our love for cannabis and cultivation crossed paths. So it made sense to do it there when the opportunity came about. This also will be one of the first high-end dispensaries to come to the San Fernando Valley area, which is an under-served market right now.”
B-Real started collaborating with cultivation expert Kenji Fujishima on a brand of cannabis products several years ago, which lead to his desire to open a storefront of his own. He initially planned to open a medical-only facility in Orange County back in 2016, but that project was short-lived.
“As advocates and brand-builders, we felt it was imperative that we have a landing place for what we produce–our flowers, concentrates, and other related products. Seeing places like TLC [Collective in Boyle Heights] and [rapper Berner’s dispensary] Cookies do such amazing work in their shops inspired us to do something great. These shops served as an inspiration for us when opening this retail space, and we look forward to bringing that same type of experience to people coming to our place.”
Some 40 different strains of the house marijuana line will be available at Dr. Greenthumb’s when it opens.
“When we started out the brand, it was based on ‘OG Kush’ strains, because, at the time, that was the sought-out strain in Southern California,” B-Real says. “As the industry and culture evolves, exotic strains hit the market, and now there a new demand for those. We’ve been developing new strains for some time, to have the options people are looking for now.”
Working with Fujishima, who boasts over two decades of experience crafting strains, Dr. Greenthumb’s will release new, limited-edition products and flavors every week, in addition to the core line. Even in the crowded cannabis marketplace, they’re hoping the effort they put in to developing and growing products will stand out for consumers.
“I think the years that our team has in cultivation makes a big difference in the quality of our product,” B-Real says. “We put a lot of love, care, and passion in the cultivation, and I think that’s the distinction.”
In addition to the cannabis products, the shop will also stock an in-house range of clothing and merchandise and smoking accessories, including Phuncky Feel Tips, reusable glass mouthpieces to be used when smoking rolled joints (an invention of B-Real’s own, sort of like the short, weed equivalent of Audrey Hepburn’s cigarette holder in Breakfast at Tiffany’s).
B-Real was not an early advocate for California’s current legal cannabis policy, arguing in 2016 that Proposition 64 might actually be bad for marijuana users and small businesses like his own, but he’s come around, citing some regulatory updates as the rules have gone into practice. Even as the store opens, as he said in a statement to Civilized, “I still think there are things that need further due diligence to give the small business owner a chance at succeeding before the big businesses start to come to play.”
Nonetheless, he’s making an ambitious bet on cannabis retail. In addition to the Sylmar shop–which will also have space for a studio for his online media project BReal.TV and special events, like Wednesday’s opening party, featuring DJs and live performances–Dr. Greenthumb’s is looking at opening a second location in Cathedral City, outside Palm Springs, in the near future, and a downtown L.A. store a bit further down the line.
“It will be a great experience for the fans and myself,” B-Real says. “But even for the people who don’t know who I am or have no idea who or what ‘Dr. Greenthumb’ is, I know when they came through our doors and pick any strain on the shelf, they will leave with something amazing. That’s what’s important to me. That they have a great experience.”
Dr. Greenthumb’s Dispensary opens with a celebration on Wed., Aug. 15, 8 a.m.-10 p.m., at 12751 Foothill Blvd., Sylmar.
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