Cannabis dispensaries abound in the San Fernando Valley to such an extent it seems marijuana may one day eclipse the adult film industry as the suburban community’s commercial king.
California Cannabis Decriminalization
California’s decriminalization of cannabis for medical use in 1996 ushered in a years-long, legally uncertain, exponential increase of Valley dispensaries. From Universal City to Sun Valley, from Chatsworth to Woodland Hills, new cannabis storefronts popped up in every available niche, nook, and cranny. When last year’s recreational legalization went into effect, it opened the dispensary floodgates completely and one now can’t go more than a few blocks without glimpsing green crosses, folksy murals, anonymous street views, and bad cannabis pun signage.
North Hollywood, CA
North Hollywood is one of many communities in the San Fernando Valley’s mix of tract homes, commercial industries, apartment sprawl, and homeless camps. The neighborhood’s high concentration of cannabis dispensaries reflects the industry’s advance into mainstream society and everyday commerce.
There are four dispensaries located on the half-mile stretch of NoHo’s Vineland Ave. between Camarillo St. and Magnolia Blvd. (see map at top). This storefront cluster is a representative example of North Hollywood’s commercial cannabis activity, as the city boasts many other storefronts grouped along its tree-lined boulevards and side streets.
Dispensary Exterior Design
Over the past few years, I’ve come to appreciate the diversity in styles and identities expressed in cannabis dispensary exteriors, in storefront facades, shop names, company logos, slogans, building designs, conditions and locations, and more. I’ve long focused on describing what goes on inside the dispensaries I visit and am now stepping back to assess dispensaries from the outside.
Over the next several weeks, perhaps months, I’ll be cruising around the valley taking pictures of dispensaries like those found on Vineland Avenue. My goal is to capture visually the subtle (and not so subtle) exterior dispensary nuances that evoke a particular theme or identity. What do the exteriors tell us about these dispensaries?
The Four Vineland Ave. Storefronts
The four Vineland Ave. dispensary exteriors I recently shot belong
The stores are located within spitting distance of each other, yet each projects a unique identity through exterior design.
As you can see above, the NoHo Wellness Center is fairly non-descript but features interesting plant life, while below, GTR NoHo’s customers must follow the arrows on the side of the building around to the very easy-to-miss back door.
Zen NoHo exhibits a folksy/funky hip-hop styled cannabis-themed mural on the north side of the building, while around the corner on Magnolia Blvd., Project Cannabis’s signage evokes corporatism, commercialism, and a higher net-worth clientele.
I’ve published article about two of these dispensaries here on Swedish Flying Saucer. Of the four shops, Zen NoHo features the best combination of customer service and price, though their inventory often falls short, while Project Cannabis-NoHo has a decent supply, reasonably helpful budtenders, but poor discounts. I’ve never visited
I’ll be gathering images to edit together for a much larger piece in the future. This is just a sampling. I hope that in viewing these images and those to follow, readers can appreciate the diversity in dispensary designs and gain a deeper understanding of the way cannabis legalization is affecting the Valley’s physical and commercial landscape.