Southwest Patient Group is located in San Ysidro, less than a mile from the U.S.-Mexico border. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

They work in an all-cash business and get taxed multiple times on the same dollar. Most are forced into the parts of town where the adult-entertainment shops go. The products on their shelves remain illegal under federal law.

Given the incredible risk and cost, why would anyone operate a marijuana dispensary in San Diego?

On our second episode of the Voice of San Diego Potcast, Kinsee Morlan and I consider the difficulty of steering an industry that still has one oar in prohibitionist waters. The podcast is a semi-regular endeavor, and its goal is to make marijuana culture and politics accessible to the average citizen.

Before opening storefronts in Kearny Mesa and Mission Valley, Rocky Goyal worked in commercial real estate. He said he discovered the medicinal qualities of marijuana after his mom got sick.

Alex Scherer also worked in real estate and began looking for his next endeavor after the market crashed. He came to cannabis with a social justice perspective, founding the Southwest Patients Group in San Ysidro.

“Cannabis has impacted communities of color disproportionately,” he said, “and now that it’s legalized, I’m hoping to see a lot of relief for those communities. Overall, it’s just an exciting thing to be a part of.”

They see themselves both as businessmen and advocates — entrepreneurs with a sense of morality. Scherer also founded the United Medical Marijuana Coalition, a trade group that played a key role in writing San Diego’s regulations.

Rocky Goyal, Pearl Ayon, Alex Scherer
(From left to right) San Diego marijuana dispensary founders Rocky Goyal of Apothekare and Pearl Ayon and Alex Scherer of Southwest Patient Group. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Later in the show, we talked to our colleague Maya Srikrishnan about the implications of more California-grown marijuana in Mexico.

Some wealthier residents of Tijuana, she recently wrote, cross the border to consume marijuana products in San Diego. Others are openly driving supplies through checkpoints and getting away with it, because Mexican border agents busy looking for green baggies and joints; they don’t know how to spot oils and edibles.

Not all bud is making its way across the border illegally, though. A Poway-based company is permitted to sell CBD products — which are non-psychoactive — to Mexicans who have a doctor’s prescription.

There’s now a push to legalize medical marijuana in parts of northern Mexico. When and if that happens is anyone’s guess, but the influence of Proposition 64 is undeniable.

Send your suggestions, for future guests and questions, my way. Check out the first episode about independent delivery services.

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Jesse Marx is a former Voice of San Diego associate editor.

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