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Cannabis-centric farmers market to debut in Boyle Heights

Only card-carrying medical marijuana patients will be able to purchase pot at California Heritage Market
Patients will be able to buy buds directly from growers from across California

The ever-popular farmers market scene in Los Angeles could soon see the introduction of a whole new type of green — albeit targeted to a very specific consumer.

What's being billed as L.A.'s first cannabis-centric farmers market is to make its debut in Boyle Heights over the Fourth of July weekend. The motivation for organizers is similar to what has made farmers markets ubiquitous across Los Angeles: direct access to produce — or, in this case, pot producers.

"We are offering a new type of way for patients in Los Angeles to access their medicine," said Paizley Bradbury, executive director of the West Coast Collective, the Boyle Heights marijuana dispensary that is hosting the California Heritage Market inside a warehouse-like structure.

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FOR THE RECORD: An article in the June 28 LATExtra section about the opening of a cannabis-centric farmers market in Boyle Heights said a marijuana collective would be closed from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day so that the ability of customers to purchase marijuana could be verified. Although the collective will be closed, the cannabis-centric market will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m from  July 4 through July 6. 

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At the market, she said, card-carrying medical marijuana patients will be able to smell, touch and — yes — purchase fresh, organic buds directly from growers who will be coming in from around the state.

Marijuana treats, oils, concentrated cannabis and glass pipes may also be on the menu.

David Welsh, who represents the West Coast Collective and several other dispensaries throughout the region, said the market is not "some rogue shop" and complies with local laws.

The event won't be open to the public in the way most open-air farmers markets are, and access will be limited to those who can legally buy pot.

Organizers said they intend to close the collective from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day so they can verify that every customer is legally able to purchase marijuana products, a process that will include calling their doctors, checking IDs and running licenses through the state's medical marijuana program database.

"It's a novel idea," Welsh said of the market. "It really holds true to the purpose of the medical marijuana law."

The city attorney's office did not respond to questions Friday on the legality of the event or whether it would be challenged.

LAPD Officer Rosario Herrera said it doesn't appear that organizers would be breaking the law so long as they sell only to licensed customers.

The West Coast Collective's 15,000-square-foot shop in the 1500 block of South Esperanza Street is one of 135 dispensaries allowed to operate in Los Angeles under Proposition D, the ballot measure passed last year that set up the legal parameters for some dispensaries to remain open.

For months, organizers discussed cutting out the middleman for medical marijuana patients, much as typical farmers markets do for thousands of consumers across L.A. every week.

The idea for a cannabis market, Bradbury said, came after she noticed that some dispensaries were providing false information about the product and significantly increasing their prices to patients.

A market would give patients an opportunity to talk to growers and get wholesale prices — something that isn't usually available.

"Dispensaries are supposed to allow patients to access their growers," Bradbury said.

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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