Kimberly Cargile opened A Therapeutic Alternative Shop in 2009. She says her store serves more than 40,000 patients throughout California. In addition to buying marijuana products, patients can also take advantage of free services like massage therapy and yoga. Cargile stated, “I believe that a patient has a right to heal themselves by all means necessary. So we really are on the cutting edge.” There are 30 dispensaries in Sacramento that serve individuals with a doctor’s prescription for medical cannabis.

That number will soon increase as thousands of applications are expected for dispensaries that will sell cannabis to recreational users. A doctor’s prescription for cannabis is no longer necessary under the state’s Adult Use of Marijuana Act, but until 2018 there is no store where a person can legally buy marijuana without a prescription. The question is whether existing shops will open their businesses to recreational users next year. Cargile said, “We will stay medical. There are plenty of legit patients who come to us who really need our services. We believe that we’ll be able to stay sustainable in the face of quite a bit of competition from recreational stores.”

Nate Bradley, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association, says he’s spoken to dispensary owners who want to stay medical. But Bradley says many of them have changed their minds. He stated, “It’s just expanding your market. If you’re a business owner, why would you not want to expand your market?” Bradley says Prop 64 was written to complement California’s existing legal framework for medical cannabis. He says the goal is to have one system with two sets of retail licenses, one for medical cannabis and another for recreational marijuana. Bradley said, “But that is what we’d like to see for the long run instead of creating the bureaucracy of two separate systems with two separate sets of rules you have to be in compliance with.”

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