Weed Shops' Smell of Success Irks Some L.A. Neighbors
As an LA Weekly reader, you're probably fairly pro-medical marijuana.
But what if a shop opened right next door to your business? And your place was an eatery? And it smelled like the jungles of Humboldt County nearly 24/7? And your customers could get contact highs just by stopping over?
Right on, some of you would say. But some entrepreneurs are seriously bummed by the smell of weed fogging up their adjacent enterprises:
Take Fatima Marques, owner of Natas Pastries. She has been operating in the same storefront on Ventura Boulevard since 2005.
The business expanded in 2010 from a take-out bakery to being a full-on eatery, a process Marques says involved a lot of city red tape. In fact, she was once cited for having two tables on the patio outside without permission.
But when she complained about odors after a pot shop moved in upstairs two years ago, she says the city claims little could be done.
The dispensary clouds her business — which gets some of its marketing from the natural appeal of the smell of baked goods (not that kind of baked goods) — in chronic stank, she says, turning off some regulars.
"I have old customers who come and say, 'What is this? It doesn't smell like baked goods anymore,'" Marques tells us.
She says her bakers come in during the wee hours to start their day: The first thing they they do is blast the eatery's kitchen fans in an attempt to get the pot stench out.
The smell is especially bad in fall harvest season, since, she says, the place next door grows on-site.
(We called the dispensary but were unable to get through. We asked the City Attorney's office about the location but have not yet heard back.)
Nanette Gonzalez for LA Weekly
Marques questions whether the place can legally grow pot (though other legit dispensaries clearly do). "I was telling the city what they're doing and they haven't done anything," she says. adding,
If their customers have the munchies and they eat our food it might work, but for my clientele there is nothing in my business that has to do with this. You're in a place where you eat and drink and you don't want to smell pot. It's very strong.
We noticed the overwhelming smell of cannabis at a few other dispensary-adjacent eateries and thought we'd check in with them.
One Westside restaurant owner, who did not want his name used, told us, "I'm not a user so I don't like it."
But he also said that a new ventilation system in the building he shares with the dispensary has dissipated most of the sticky funk and that his customers don't seem to mind.
"Most of the time my customers make fun of it," he said. "When you get the munchies they come and get food from you."
One downside, however, is rent, the owner said. He believes the pot shop is quite profitable — and that's one of the reasons his rent has steadily been getting, well, higher.
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