San Diego’s Medicine Man Club Is Using Cryptocurrency Over Cash
Crypto-tokens enable the Medicine Man Club to operate in a Dave and Buster's-esque fashion.
Published on September 15, 2017

The Medicine Man Club, a marijuana events space in southeast San Diego, introduced its own cryptographic token in July, the “Medicine Man Token” (MMT). Token holders have exclusive access to what founder Robert Mcpherson calls “a country club for marijuana.”

Crypto-tokens have exploded into a nine figure industry in 2017. Usually making use of the Ethereum blockchain platform, companies and projects are designing their own cryptocurrency-like tokens and issuing them through various means, including the controversial crowdfunding mechanism, the ‘initial coin offering’.

A crypto-token offers operational benefits for the Medicine Man Club (which does not allow photos, and whose members must all sign NDAs) like eliminating the need for cash. McPherson, who opted to use blockchain platform Waves to launch his token, says this helps him to abide by the law. “It allows us to track everything that is going on in the Club, from inventory to whoever has come here,” he says. “Each MMT is verified by the blockchain.” 

The proprietor envisions a Dave and Busters-esque use of tokens for events, goods and concerts. Events so far have included Extravaganja, Strip N’ Dabz, and a Secret Bowl Sesh with as many as 500 guests who smoke, talk to vendors, and chill.

“It’s similar to how at Dave and Buster’s you pay for Power Play cards for videos, and can’t pay cash for video games,” says Mcpherson. “Dispensaries have tons of problems with cash. We are using our digital currency now. My digital currency has a pair to bitcoin, and one can sell or rent their memberships out. If you have a membership and a friend is in town and you can’t take them, you can rent them the tokens. They just have to show they control the 25 tokens to prove membership. We are creating more uses for the tokens as we go.”

A Devin the Dude meet-and-greet on May 11, 2017 had a fifteen token fee to shake hands with the Houston-based rapper. “Gamers Ave” is a peer-to-peer video game tournament hosted by the club. Gamecredits, another crypto-currency, allows gamers and developers buy and sell games and in-game items.

“You buy-in with [cryptocurrency], place a bounty on your head, people play you for that bounty,” says Mcpherson. “If you win, you give up that digital currency.”

Medicine Man members pay $25 per month and receive 25 tokens to a wallet via the Waves blockchain platform, which simplifies the process for anyone who wishes to make customized crypto-tokens. The MMT represent membership to the club.

Members can buy the token at the Club or on Wave’s decentralized exchange, which is downloadable from the Waves platform. The Club accepts bitcoin, PotCoin and cash in exchange for MMTs. For food and drinks inside the Club, more MMTs are needed. Mcpherson says San Diego hasn’t had a marijuana club yet, and the only crypto-token driven club so far might be LEGENDS, a strip club in Vegas. Mcpherson’s “weed bar”, as he refers to it, currently has 30 members and will ultimately allow approximately 150.

“With marijuana being legal every one is dispensary, dispensary, dispensary,” he says “We focus on something different, on the entertainment side of it. We don’t sell marijuana here. You get pre-rolls, but you can’t come here and buy and eighth or an ounce. We operate like a bar. Everything you get here, you must consume here.”

Still, Mcpherson acknowledges he’s working in a gray area. “There’s no city ordinance for what I am doing.” 

Justin O'Connell
Justin is a California-based writer who covers music, cannabis, craft beer, Baja California, science and technology. His writing has appeared in VICE and the San Diego Reader.
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