The Wild West of weed in Silicon Valley

From seed to sale, impending legalization has catalyzed an onslaught of activity in the Bay Area and its more agricultural neighbors.

Assuming you make it past the laser scanner in the bulletproof security checkpoint that will mark the entrance of their new expansion property, Bob and Lonna Blodgett envision future customers stepping into an all-in-one cannabis wonderland.

In a cavernous 20,000-square-foot Salinas industrial space with 25-foot wood beam ceiling, Bob imagines vertical farming pods churning out 3,000 to 4,000 pounds of product a year for Monterey Bay Alternative Medicine’s three (and counting) Central Coast dispensaries. On an adjacent patch of concrete, he wants to expand R&D for cannabis byproducts like oils, waxes and other specialty offerings. In the former office space up front, a new dispensary — Lonna’s thinking “a little bit of optical illusion art” — would showcase the fruits of the operation.

“You have to spend some money up front and gamble in this business,” explains Bob, 73, who was pre-med at Stanford when he left to plan rock concerts and build houses, among other pursuits, before growing cannabis in recent years. “It’s actually kind of late in Monterey County now.”

Up and down California’s marijuana supply chain, growers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers are plotting their next moves in a period of regulatory purgatory. In the Bay Area, dense retail markets with a track record of tight dispensary rules await state guidance on reconciling medical and recreational products. A few dozen miles away on the Central Coast, the competition is already on for space primed to grow the region’s new cash crop.

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