It’s common knowledge in Los Angeles that if you want to get a medical marijuana card quick and cheap, you go to the Venice Beach Boardwalk and lay down 40 bucks in one of its many tiny storefront medical card mills.

California was the first state in the country to legalize cannabis as medicine in 1996 with Proposition 215 voted in and the Compassionate Care Act was added to its Health and Safety Code, giving Californians safe access to cannabis for real illnesses.

Venice Beach began in 1905 as Venice of America with tobacco millionaire Abbot Kinney originally creating a 16-mile neighborhood of canals as homage to Venice, Italy, along the Pacific Ocean, with Marina Del Rey to the south and Santa Monica to the north.

Kinney, who had won the parcel in a literal coin flip, proceeded to develop the area as a tourist spot, and it remains a popular town within the City of Los Angeles for artists, musicians, and performers who line Ocean Front Walk on the beach, sharing space with flame eaters, chain saw jugglers, and the occasional MMJ card mill.

In the 1950s, Beatniks gathered in coffee houses. By the 1960s, artists and musicians converged and lived on the cheap. In the 1970s, actor and former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, could be found pumping iron on a part of the walk dubbed Muscle Beach.

After signing a law decriminalizing small amounts of cannabis in the state, he was quoted on the aroma of the area, stating, “… you just inhale, and you live off everyone else.” At least we know he definitely inhaled.

Today, the canals are lined with high-end, upgraded mini-mansions with price tags only Hollywood industry-types can afford. There are just a few original cottages remaining, but the shops and stalls that line the beach are still fabulously funky.

Weed Traveler: Exploring Venice Beach


When I set out to visit Venice Beach, the sun was shining, the sky was blue, and surfers were floating on out on the sea as I made my way through the circus-like atmosphere.

A man broke bottles on a tarp as a crowd gathered, preparing to walk on the glass barefoot for tips, while a woman read palms for $10 a pop and an electric guitarist on roller skates played Hendrix. It was a typical weekday in Venice Beach.


Weed Traveler: Exploring Venice Beach


The Green Doctors office is located next door to Jodi Maroni’s Sausage. “No appointment necessary” is the norm at the storefront MMJ card shops, so I popped in to have a chat with one of the clerks.

As was expected, the young doctor had little knowledge of the many benefits of the plant, cannabis oil, putting cancer into remission, or its ability of combatting myriad ailments from ingesting, rather than smoking.

No matter, I adjusted my proverbial Florence Nightingale cap and shared my story. He was more than a little surprised, is now following me on social media and, hopefully, he’ll be better informed to help those that present for a card only wanting to burn flower. In fact, a family member was currently suffering from an ailment mentioned, and he was eager to help with the newfound knowledge.

Venice Beach also hosts some of the more enlightened dispensaries in the city, with The Green Goddess located near the pier and within walking distance from Ocean Front Walk. After posting a photo of the pier to social media, Annie Nelson (Willie’s wife) left me a comment encouraging me to visit the shop. With that kind of recommendation, it was a no-brainer.

The facility was clean and staff was friendly, with security just outside the door. But I was most impressed with the large selection of medicine available, including a good amount of CBD-only oils, tinctures of varied strengths, cannabis caps for easy dosing, and a variety of edibles – all tested and plainly marked in professional packaging.

As for myself, I purchased a refill for my vape pen – a sativa-dominant hybrid for $35 – and a pre-rolled cone I immediately strolled to the end of the pier with.

Visiting dispensaries in culturally diverse towns always offer up a great experience. As a California patient, I’m grateful for the many producers of good medicine in one of my favorite LA towns where it’s still cool to take a walk and witness art, music, and good food in the Cali sunshine, with your third eye fully open.

Weed Traveler: Exploring Venice Beach

Photos By Sharon Letts.