NEWS
Southern California Just Got Its First Drive-Thru Cannabis Dispensary
It may look like a fast food pick-up window, but Harborside’s new Desert Hot Springs dispensary will be serving a different kind of shake.
Published on December 5, 2019

Move over In-N-Out, there’s a new drive-thru champion on the scene in Southern California. But instead of burgers, fries, and milkshakes, this easy access pit stop will sell eighths, edibles, and concentrates. 

According to the Palm Springs Desert Sun, California’s famed Harborside cannabis dispensary is getting ready for the grand opening of SoCal’s very first drive-thru pot shop in Desert Hot Springs later this month. 

“Harborside has always been about pushing the boundaries of cannabis freedom as far as we can,” Harborside founder Steve DeAngelo told the Desert Sun, “and this is another step in that direction.”

Shoppers at the drive-thru dispensary will see a large, constantly adjusted electronic menu when they arrive at the location, and will be able to place an order for pre-rolls, vape carts, or edibles the same way that you would order a Happy Meal. Drivers will have to show identification to confirm they are of age, but other passengers will not be required to have ID. 

Drive-thru dispensaries are technically banned under California’s recreational cannabis legalization law, but thanks to some incredible foresight and permit planning from Harborside and their business partners, the company was able to skirt the regulations.

The new location will be able to operate the window service dispensary thanks to a grandfather clause that will honor applications submitted before the Prop. 64 rules were finalized. Since Harborside filed the paperwork for the Desert Hot Springs location in early 2018, the drive-thru is still considered fair game. There is only one other drive-thru dispensary currently operating in the state.

“I believe more is better,” Jocelyn Kane, vice president of the board of the Coachella Valley Cannabis Alliance Network, said. “Harborside definitely has a lot of experience in how to do retail, so I think they’re going to model for other folks a really deep understanding of how to do this.”

And if years of industry experience have made Harborside the perfect dispensary to bring the new shopping experience to Southern California, Desert Hot Springs is the perfect city to house it. When California passed Prop. 64 in 2016, the small city in the Coachella Valley immediately decided to welcome weed with open arms, and set forth plans to become one of the area’s largest centers for cannabis business and tourism.

The Harborside Desert Hot Springs location is currently operating a soft opening — including the fully functional drive-thru — and will celebrate a formal grand opening this weekend. But even with customers already driving away from the window with child-proof bags of bud, DeAngelo is still in awe of how far the California cannabis industry has come in such a short time.

“I have always believed that one day cannabis would be very widely available for society, because it's such a valuable plant,” DeAngleo said. “I have to confess, though, I didn't quite have the drive-thru in mind when we first opened Harborside.”

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Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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