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On day two of legal recreational marijuana, sales remain steady

Some stores still had lines out the door, and workers expected queues to grow as people got off work in the afternoon and early evening.

After a rush of business on the first day of legal recreational marijuana sales, the flow of customers at San Diego's dispensaries remained steady on Tuesday.

Some stores still had lines out the door, and workers expected queues to grow as people got off work in the afternoon and early evening.

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Urbn Leaf in Bay Park served close to 1,000 people on Monday, according to founder Will Senn. The store did four times its normal volume in sales.

"It was very, very surreal. We've waited a long time for this," Senn said. "Everyone was excited to be there and be a part of history."

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Though California was the first state to allow medical marijuana use, other states led the way in legalizing it for recreational purposes. California voters followed up in November 2016 with a vote approving Proposition 64, allowing dispensaries to sell it to adults.

Senn noticed that many of the store's customers early in the day were from out-of-state and that locals showed up later.

Monday's customers didn't mind the wait, Senn said. The store offered massages and free food to those standing in line.

"You put somebody in that long of a line at a bar, and they're going to be pretty pissed," Senn said with a laugh.

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He wasn't worried about running out of inventory, he said. He and his team worked overnight into the new year to prepare the store for the wave of customers.

Crowd control ropes were still in place outside the store on Tuesday though the line didn't get that long early in the day.

Inside, customers could wait on gray couches after going through security and showing their IDs before being ushered in groups of 10 into the dispensary's main queue.

About 10 "budtenders" assisted individuals and small groups in choosing from a variety of flower, as the smokable marijuana is called, as well as capsules, oils, topical lotions, dog treats, concentrates, vape products and edibles.

Jay Frentsos with Urbn Leaf shows Michael Gladen one of the many varieties of bud samples to consider.
Jay Frentsos with Urbn Leaf shows Michael Gladen one of the many varieties of bud samples to consider. (Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Jay Frentsos, who has been working in the cannabis industry since he moved to California two years ago, is one of Urbn Leaf's budtenders.

By late morning on Tuesday, at least 10 of his customers said they'd also come on Monday, he said.

Most of the people he helped yesterday were not experienced cannabis users, he said.

"They had no idea what they were looking for," Frentsos said. "It was a lot of explaining things."

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He recommended lower doses or lower potency products for first time users to make sure they didn't overdo it.

Michael Gladen and his wife Donna are assisted by budtender Jay Frentsos at Urbn Leaf with selecting from one of the many varieties of marijuana.
Michael Gladen and his wife Donna are assisted by budtender Jay Frentsos at Urbn Leaf with selecting from one of the many varieties of marijuana. (Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

On Tuesday morning, he helped an older couple choose a strain of flower that would have an uplifting, euphoric effect, called a sativa. They don't get out of the house much, they told him, and they wanted to enjoy themselves while they were out exploring the city later that day.

For those wanting help with sleeping or anxiety, he recommended strains that were indica-dominant instead of sativa.

Sam Veenkant of Ocean Beach came in with a four-legged companion, a Boxer named Brody, for her first experience in a dispensary.

She planned to get a vape pen and some edibles and ended up also getting a bit of flower.

"I kind of figured I would go all out," she said.

At Torrey Holistics, which has a smaller dispensary space with about five budtenders, the line to get in reached the street by noon and curved along the sidewalk by about 1 p.m.

The Sorrento Valley store served between 600 and 700 people on Monday and had a two-hour wait most of the day. Workers had to close the line by about 7:45 p.m. to try to get everyone through before 9 p.m., when sales have a hard stop per state regulation.

Kimberly Hahnlein of Clairemont came to get lotion to help with knee pain she's experienced since a motorcycle accident in April and something that would assist with insomnia that the accident also caused.

She doesn't like smoking, she said, and didn't want the potential psychological effects of certain strains of marijuana. Budtender John Salin helped her pick out a cartridge for a vape pen that would help her sleep without inducing those effects.

One budtender at Torrey Holistics reached into the display case for a jar containing a bud for a customer to sample the aroma.
One budtender at Torrey Holistics reached into the display case for a jar containing a bud for a customer to sample the aroma. (Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

After a quick trip to the store's ATM — dispensaries are cash only — she walked away with her purchase in a child-resistant pouch that stores now have to use.

Though she’s using it for medical reasons, she never felt motivated to get a medical card for marijuana, Hahnlein said.

"Now that it's easier to get, I decided to come today and try it out," she said.

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