No pot for you, Chico
What’s the City Council been smoking? Arts DEVO would never have imagined that in his lifetime he would write these words: CV is cooler than Chico. By CV, I mean the little city of Shasta Lake, which used to be called Central Valley when I lived there during my high school years, and is where I recently exercised my new right as a Californian to purchase weed. No medical referral needed, just the cash in my hand and an ID showing I was at least 21 years old. As unreal as it might seem, the city where a dart tournament at the Silver Dollar Club is considered a big night out is enlightened enough to capitalize on the legalization of cannabis in California in order to improve the city’s dire financial situation. Meanwhile, in the “university town” of Chico, if you want weed, you still have to “know a guy.”
The CN&R has followed with frustration as the conservative majority on the Chico City Council ignored the will of the people (61 percent of the city’s voters were in favor of Proposition 64) as well as the potential financial benefits that cannabis-related jobs and increased tax revenue could bring to the cash-strapped city, and voted to ban all commercial production and sales of cannabis (not just for recreational use, but medical as well). You can grow your own, but only if you do so indoors and after getting a permit (see “Know before you grow” on page 9).
Look, I’m not a pot dude. Other than a handful of tentative tokes in my adult life, I don’t partake, and I’ve never advocated for it. I have learned to tolerate crunchy hippies, but I still believe there should be a limit on the number of Grateful Dead cover bands allowed to play in Chico city limits in a calendar year. But biases aside, I realize that the majority of the people I know in Chico smoke recreationally. I also believe that pot is less of a threat to the health of adult humans than booze, white sugar, prescription painkillers or Chalupa Supremes. Like anything else addictive (yes, people can develop use disorders related to pot, no matter what your local burnout says), it should be regulated and all efforts should be made to keep kids and their still-forming brains away from it, but for Joe and Maryjane Adult, getting a buzz on is one of life’s great pleasures. And pleasure is a good thing.
Since Chico is missing out on history, on Sunday I decided to satisfy my curiosity and take the 90-minute drive to Shasta Lake, where three dispensaries—530 Cannabis, Queen of Dragons and Leave It to Nature—are licensed for recreational sales.
I stopped at 530 Cannabis, where after an ID check in the lobby customers are directed to a room that’s set up like a candy shop for adults. A flower menu on the wall gives prices for the different varieties of buds stored in clear jars in the cases below, with most being in either the lower $6-$7 per gram range (Chocolate Fruity Pebbles, Querkle …) or upper $10-$16 range (False Teeth, Pure Kush, etc.). I explained my inexperience to the clerk, and she directed me to Clementine, a sativa strain that smelled like skunky citrus hops. She carefully plucked 2 grams worth of fuzzy buds with tiny tongs, assured me that it was a good choice for a newbie who might get up the nerve to smoke (and who had friends who would step in as needed), and sealed it in a little silver bag.
I also picked up some edibles—530 is stocked with a range of prepackaged sweets, drinks, etc.—a THC-infused cookie and dark chocolate bar. When the sales tax was added along with the state’s 15 percent excise tax, the total for my order was about $70. Shasta Lake also has its own tax of 6 percent of gross receipts for its dispensaries, which in the 2016-17 fiscal year generated $571,419 for the city, a figure that will surely grow significantly thanks to the recreational market.
If you include the burger I got for lunch and the tank of gas I purchased in Redding along with my cannabis order, it all added up to more than $100 that I alone spent at businesses in Shasta—not Butte—County. I gave the cookie to an appreciative Chico friend (of legal age)—in broad daylight! And as for the dank nugs and funny chocolate, I’ve tucked my white plastic childproof envelope of goodies between bottles of wine and tequila in the pantry, where it’ll sit until at least the next backyard barbecue.