The Green Cross (TGC) in San Francisco is more than just a dispensary or marijuana delivery service. Thanks to the efforts of its founder, Kevin Reed, TGC is known as an exemplar in community and outreach services. Kevin is a medical cannabis activist and tireless advocate for medical cannabis patients, often knee-deep in the political quagmire that entrenches this sticky issue. We chat with Kevin about the new regulations facing dispensary owners, trends in product packaging, and getting his picture with President Obama.
The Green Cross opened its doors as a medical cannabis collective in San Francisco in 2004. How has the cannabis industry changed since then?
The Green Cross has gone from being too scared to answer telephones to promoting our business on billboards located at major off-ramps and on bus lines in San Francisco. We went from knowing very little in the beginning to learning the mass benefits of the cannabis plant. We’ve seen neighbors alter their negative perception of cannabis, its patients, and dispensaries as a whole.
By showing them what a well-managed dispensary can accomplish, we’ve been able to change peoples’ minds and build enthusiasm about our inclusion in the neighborhood. Politicians now stand up for us and actively fight for patients’ access to this amazing plant. There are now hundreds, if not thousands, of branded cannabis products on the market, when in the beginning there were very few options available.
How has the new legislation legalizing marijuana changed (or will change) TGC?
TGC has always worked hard to stay ahead of regulations as much as possible. We stay up-to-date on laws and requirements for our operation and products. We’ve made many alterations to our packaging over time and continue to anticipate future changes once the draft regulations are finalized later this year.
For example, since we will be required to pre-package all of our flower come 2018, we decided to get ahead of the curve and roll it out sooner. This gives our patients and staff time to become familiar with the new system well before legalization goes into effect.
We’ve also changed our overall operation and member database system to prepare for future tracking requirements. We know there will be many expected and unexpected changes in our future, but with our experience and a great team behind us, we are confident we’ll tackle anything that comes our way.
What are some recent trends in dispensaries design or service?
With the rapid expansion of the cannabis market as a whole, it’s important to make yourself stand out. This has lead to many new design concepts in our industry, as well as a variety of service options now available. Everyone is trying to find their individual niche within an ever-growing industry.
TGC’s niche is quality medicine at affordable prices. Member service is our top priority, and we pride ourself on offering professional, discreet service with a smile. Our in-house IncrediMeds edibles are made with fresh, high-quality ingredients and top grade medical cannabis. We focus on making extremely delicious edible products while ensuring consistency and reliable effects.
We offer more than three-dozen cannabis infused edibles in sweet, savory, vegan, and gluten-free options. That said, we appeal to an extremely diverse member-base and strive to offer products for every member’s needs.
How has your product packaging changed over time?
Over the years we’ve made changes to our packaging to be as compliant as possible. We even worked with the San Francisco Department of Public Health to ensure accuracy.
We also have to be ready for expedited changes to our packaging and advertising due to new cannabis regulations. On our last revamp of our edible pouches, we steered away from The Green Cross logo colors and focused on creating vibrant and colorful IncrediMeds packaging. We added “supplemental facts” to each edible, as well as the required language: “WARNING: Not a Food Item. For medical use only.” In addition, we added a disclaimer about consuming edibles, keeping them out of reach of children and animals, overdosing, etc.
We’re anticipating a new microdosing requirement for 2018. All edibles will need to be available in 10mg [of THC] doses. We are already working toward making these changes to our edibles and look forward to the release of the finalized regulations in November.
Tell me about meeting President Obama in 2016.
I met President Obama at a private fundraiser for the Democratic National Convention in February 2016. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get away with wearing my Green Cross lapel pin in the pictures, but sure enough, the Secret Service allowed it. After asking him to consider rescheduling medical cannabis before leaving office, he said, “Oh yeah, I saw your pin!” What a wonderful and memorable moment.
You have lived in San Francisco since 1999. What neighborhood do you currently call home?
I spend my time equally between SoMa and the Excelsior District. SoMa is home to our delivery service, and the Excelsior is home to our storefront location. I care deeply for both neighborhoods and feel a strong obligation to call each neighborhood home.
What do you love most about these two neighborhoods?
I love that The Green Cross has been able to fit right into each neighborhood and has come to be accepted as a part of each district. Our organization and the surrounding neighborhood are simultaneously growing up quickly.
In SoMa, some of my favorite places are Don Ramon’s Mexican Restaurant, Ted’s Deli, and the SoMa StrEat Food Park. They are all wonderful places to visit, and we’ve been fortunate enough to frequent them on an almost daily basis for more than a decade.
As for the Excelsior, Silver Café has saved the day on more than one occasion. Since we’re conveniently located near Glen Park BART, I often spend my time shopping/eating at The Cheese Boutique, Le P’tit Laurent, and Canyon Market.
The Green Cross website says you suffer from hip and back pain due to a car accident. Which strains have you found most successful in ameliorating the pains?
I’m a huge fan of OG Kush, and it’s hands down my favorite go-to strain. In addition, I love the occasional indica IncrediMeds edible before bed to help me sleep.
Thank you for the interview, Kevin!