ENCINITAS — The city’s first of four cannabis shops is set to open by the end of the week. The Cake House, a Southern California recreational cannabis chain, will be the first marijuana dispensary to open in the city since residents approved Measure H in 2020.
While recreational cannabis is legal statewide, individual cities and counties can choose whether or not they allow businesses to sell it. Measure H, a voter-backed initiative allowing for the regulated sale and cultivation of cannabis in Encinitas, required the city to regulate cannabis retail sales.
In 2022, the city chose four cannabis enterprises through a lottery process out of 200 applicants: The Cake House at 583 South Coast Hwy., ECR Encinitas4 LLC at 211 North El Camino Real, STIIIZY at 1030 North Coast Hwy. and Siesta Life Encinitas LLC at 1038 South Coast Hwy.
In a presentation to the Encinitas City Council on Jan. 24, city staff provided status updates on each of the four dispensaries, noting that The Cake House had obtained its state license and was nearing completion.
ECR Encinitas4 LLC is not far behind, having already obtained its state license as well and is currently under construction. Siesta Life Encinitas LLC has also obtained its state license and is currently undergoing building checks with the city. STIIIZY has completed its building plan and is expecting to begin construction soon but it is still waiting on its state licensure.
According to The Cake House employees, the plan is to commence its soft opening by Friday, if not sooner. The shop’s staff is currently busy setting up the store, which will feature an open-floor concept similar to its sister store in Vista.
“We’re going to be the first ones to introduce cannabis as a face to the community, so it’s going to be a great running storefront,” said General Manager Erica Arroyo.
Ryan Anderson, director of marketing for The Cake House, compared the store’s setup to a grocery store instead of the classic dispensary style that keeps products behind a glass wall.
When walking into the pot shop, patients will have their IDs checked at the front desk, with onsite security during operation hours there to assist as well. Once they’re given the green light, they head into the next room on the main dispensary floor, where all products are kept.
Anderson said The Cake House stocks up on just about any kind of product, from cannabis flowers to concentrates, tinctures, drinks, gummies and more. All of the products are tracked and traced through the Department of Cannabis Control.
“We have an extensive menu to hit every category,” Arroyo said. “We have a more holistic vibe, a more wellness vibe — we have that to draw everyone in, plus some great introductory items like CBD.”
According to Anderson, The Cake House only stocks the freshest product available.
“We only intake products up to a certain level,” he said. “In fact, we recently just rejected an order that had an Aug. 23 date on it – if it’s older than 90 days, we will not put it on the floor.”
Anderson, Arroyo and the rest of the team are excited to be the first dispensary to open in Encinitas.
“We were very adamant about opening first and hitting the ground running,” Arroyo said. “We’re ready to go as soon as we get everything stocked up.”
The dispensary currently has about 15 employees, including part- and full-time, and expects to hire up to 24.
Operation hours will be from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Though many are excited about the new pot shops, other residents are still weary and concerned that the shops will harm the community, particularly its youth.
Anderson assured that minors would not have access to the store.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy,” he said. “Even if a parent comes in with their 15-year-old and asks for them to wait in the lobby while they shop, we will not allow it.”
Security will be on-site during operation hours, and the store will be monitored 24/7, he noted.
Some residents were also stressed that strict code compliance needs to be enforced on the pot shops.
Anderson said The Cake House follows all regulations and strives to be on top of any changes in the law.
In other cannabis-related news, the City Council approved an extension to its contract with HdL Companies for an additional $79,500 for ongoing cannabis consulting until June 30, 2025. After that, the city can extend the contract for two additional one-year periods.
The council also voted to allow for only one non-storefront, delivery-only dispensary to operate within the city in addition to the four storefronts under Senate Bill 1186, which went into effect on Jan. 1.
The law, known as the Medicinal Cannabis Patients’ Right of Access Act, prevents cities from adopting a regulation that prohibits retail delivery of medicinal cannabis and requires that cities allow for one or more non-storefront retail establishments.
The Cake House intends to eventually expand its services to include delivery as well.