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‘Disneyland’ of marijuana dispensaries coming to Santa Ana

Planet 13 is bringing its Vegas-style cannabis superstore and entertainment complex to California.


Planet 13 in Las Vegas has attracted international attention since it opened perhaps the world’s biggest marijuana store last fall, with 3,000 people shopping each day for newly legal cannabis products while surrounded by light shows and interactive art displays that feel natural a few miles off The Strip.

Now Planet 13 has announced that its second location — and likely the largest cannabis shop in California — will open early next year. And since it’s being billed as the “Disneyland of dispensaries,” it’s fitting that it’s opening just six miles from the theme park, in an industrial stretch of Santa Ana.

“It’ll have to be different than Vegas, of course,” said Larry Scheffler, co-CEO of Planet 13. “But it still has to be a destination, with different effects blended into the fabric of the Southern California lifestyle.”

Visitors walk on the LED interactive floor at Planet 13 in Las Vegas. (Photo courtesy Planet 13)

The company, which is traded on the Canadian Stock Exchange, has been scouring locations from Santa Cruz to San Diego for months, according to Scheffler. Several key numbers sold them on Santa Ana.

Los Angeles, for example, is planning to initially license some 400 shops in a city of 4 million people, with neighboring L.A. County cities such as West Hollywood also allowing marijuana sales. But Santa Ana is the only city that permits marijuana shops out of 34 cities in Orange County. And with Santa Ana issuing just 30 licenses, there will be a maximum of 30 shops serving a county with more than 3 million residents and more than 50 million visitors each year.

“To us, it was like a red flag,” Scheffler said. “This is the place to go.”

Santa Ana residents voted to regulate and tax medical marijuana shops in November 2014. The city then held a lottery to award licenses to 20 businesses, which started opening in August 2015.

After Californians legalized recreational marijuana, the Santa Ana City Council voted to let its medical marijuana shops start selling cannabis to all adults 21 and over with just an ID, starting in 2018, when the state launched a recreational cannabis market. The city council also opted to license up to 10 more recreational cannabis shops, for a total of 30.

And council members voted to allow non-retail cannabis businesses, including cultivation, distribution, manufacturing and laboratory testing.

To date, 18 shops are open and 12 others are in development, according to city spokeswoman Daisy Perez.

One of the city’s recreational retail licenses went to Newtonian Principles, Inc., headquartered at 3400 W. Warner Avenue. Assuming they get through the state and local approval process, Planet 13 will pay Newtonian Principles $6 million cash and $4 million in company shares to transfer over the retail license and property lease.

Kyle Desmet, president of Newtonian Principles, said he’s excited about the elevated industry perception, jobs and revenue Planet 13 will bring to Santa Ana. The city is projecting to get $7.8 million in cannabis revenue this fiscal year and $11.6 million in the next.

Planet 13 plans to transform the vacant 40,000-square-feet building into a marijuana superstore and entertainment complex on par with their Vegas location, according to Scheffler.

The original idea, he said, came after seeing other operators open what he described as “nondescript” shops, most using about 2,000-square-feet. He and his partner, Robert Groesbeck, envisioned something different.

“Maybe we’ve been in Vegas too long,” Scheffler joked, noting he and Grosebeck have lived in Las Vegas for a combined century. He added that they viewed big, entertainment-themed retail as “a natural,” and they “didn’t understand why anyone wasn’t doing it.”

Though some observers were skeptical of how that idea would work when it comes to selling cannabis in Las Vegas, Scheffler said the store welcomed 108,000 people in May and is generating more than $5 million in revenue each month, meaning Planet 13 accounted for 8.2 percent of all cannabis dispensary revenue for the state of Nevada the first two months of the year.

When visitors enter the Vegas shop, they walk past an 18-foot Planet 13 sphere surrounded by water and 15-foot-tall lotus flowers on the roof. In the lobby, they step onto an interactive, LED-lit floor. Inside the store, illuminated orbs float over shoppers’ heads to create hourly light shows, while 3-D projections and an interactive laser art wall provide additional entertainment.

For Santa Ana, Scheffler said they’re considering a wall featuring live video feeds from area beaches, along with other entertainment. The retailers also hope to open a small events center and a coffee shop — a feature they’re adding to their Vegas location this fall.

Scheffler said they’re still learning about the differences, in both laws and consumer demand, between Nevada and Southern California. But, to date, he said the expansion is proceeding smoothly. The company hopes to open shops in as many as 15 U.S. cities, and to expand internationally.

[source: ocregister.com / published: June 11. 2019]
 

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