San Diego is often referred to as the birthplace of California. San Diego Bay was said to be discovered by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542, though the native Kumeyaay people had already been living there for some 12,000 years.
Today, the city has its share of hi-tech companies, a vibrant harbor, and a large tourist trade; but its history is rich in agriculture, with progressive horticulturist Kate Sessions landscaping Balboa Park with the common plants we know today, such as Bougainville, Agapanthus, and myriad palm trees, that she brought up from Mexico in the 1920s.
San Diego has long been the checkpoint to smuggle cannabis up from south of the border, though the demand for Mexican weed has diminished since California established its medical program in 1996.
Multiple military bases were established in the 1880s, with the U.S. Navy setting up shop in 1901; Camp Pendleton in 1942, and the Marines’ Air Station in Miramar, home of its Top Gun school, in 1996.
Due to its heavy military leanings, the region has long been known as conservative, politically. Driving along the coast on Highway 5, recreations of Middle Eastern villages dot the landscape, with tanks and planes flying overhead in simulated war games on a regular basis.
The city also hosts a large Evangical Christian base and is also home to the Mormon Church that heavily funded the campaign against legal weed in California’s first effort to legalize with Proposition 19 in 2010.
This conservative base has demanded the banning of retail cannabis dispensaries throughout the county, with farming within county lines prohibited. This makes safe access to cannabis as medicine difficult, leaving much of its population uneducated about the benefits, as safe access equates to people openly sharing help with the plant.
The flip-side is, delivery services are thriving, as covert residents in upscale neighborhoods partake in the privacy of their homes. And while delivery is convenient, the selection of medicine can be limited to flower and smoking oils – hence the lack of education on medicine in this narrow space.
With the addition of the San Diego Cannabis Farmers Market established in 2016, start-ups gearing up for recreation, and an ongoing Local Sesh popping up regularly, the smoky closet door has now been fully opened.
The market is hosted quarterly by the Honey Flower Collective, founded by and representing San Diego farmers and medicine makers, with each market sponsored by a different featured company.
The market has become a place where residents can enjoy music, listen to patient testimonials, and learn about the benefits of the plant from the people who farm it and make the products.
Organizers are reluctant to speak out, as the city is lagging in creating ordinances for safe access, but one co-founder shared that the collective hadn’t noticed how great the need was to bring the community together in this way until the events began.
“There was no platform for patients and up-and-coming start-up companies to connect in San Diego, as most events were held in Los Angeles,” one of the co-founders said. “Though we are not the first cannabis event in the city, the market is the largest, thanks to the community.”
Above: Found at the San Diego Farmers Market, Endohack Labs' capsules come in "synergistic blends" for specific outcomes suitable for athletes and patients with active lifestyles.
Cannabis entities often give back to the community that supports them, and guests at the market show up with canned food and donated clothing; helping more than 300 locals and families in need, by donating more than 1,000 pounds of food and clothing since the event began.
Above: Desert Rose Nursery is said to be San Diego's premier clone farm.
“Education is huge,” the co-founder surmised. “We feel that as the city looks into our market, they will see it’s a positive experience. We hope they see the market is part of the movement to go forward in creating ordinances to support safe access and help its people. As Proposition 64 goes into effect things will change, and we hope we can be known as part of that progressive change.”
Above: Found at the San Diego Farmers Market, Organix are chewable tabs made with organic ingredients, with clear dosing instructions on the label. Photos by Sharon Letts.