San Francisco Interview: Kevin Reed, Green Cross Dispensary


Photo: Luke Thomas/The Green Cross
Kevin Reed: “I like to hear what medicine or strain that people like or maybe want more of.”

4th Annual Medical Cannabis Competition  Sunday, Nov. 14
Article and Interview by Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town
Northern California Correspondent
Kevin Reed first started Green Cross Dispensary in 2004; soon the dispensary became too big for the neighborhood. Green Cross was shut down. After many negotiations and jumping through hoops with the city over possible locations, the best deal Reed could cut was to open a delivery service-only dispensary. That is where the situation stands today, except that he is looking aggressively for a new location.
“I miss not having the physical space of a dispensary,” Reed said. “I miss the interaction with patients. I like to hear what medicine or strain that people like or maybe want more of. Now the best I could I do is talk to my drivers. They tell me stories about the patients or their experiences. I really get jealous.”

Toke of the Town: How hard is it to get a dispensary in this town? I would think because you had one and had to move because of zoning laws, the city would be nice to you.
Reed: I’ll give you an idea of what it is like to try to open a dispensary here. And no, I am not given any special consideration. I can’t open across from a methadone clinic. But a methadone clinic can open across from me [a dispensary]. I was looking for a space on Broadway. A dispensary next to a strip club? There shouldn’t be many complaints with that location. But there was an elementary school within a thousand feet. No go. But a strip club could be there. That’s the kind of hoops we have to jump through.
I can’t expand anymore than I have. I need more room. Also with more room, there’s more money involved. More money, the more change I can enact. That’s how you make a difference.”
Usually with that kind of talk, you might expect the person speaking to be a greed-head. But not Reed; he’s been spending his own hard-earned capital since 1995, when he got involved with the movement in San Francisco after Prop 215 passed.

Looking around you can tell the staff is really cool with each other. “I bet this is a cool place to work,” I think.

The Green Cross

Toke: Do you ever put out an ad for workers on craigslist, or is it a pretty much who you know kind of thing?
Reed: No, we just took out an ad and filled a spot last week.
Toke: It has to be the best job in the whole world.
Reed: We’re more like family than a business. But like any other business, people come and go. We’ve had lawyers working here as drivers and bakers. Lately, I’ve been looking for some kind of medical background.
Toke: No. Really?
Reed: Yeah, we learn from the people we hire. It helps us when someone already had the knowledge that we’re seeking. With the economy the way it is, there’s an awful amount of folks with a medical background looking for work. I’ve had people who went into law enforcement and other places where working at a dispensary might not be all that advantages.
Kevin Reed has a very silly, goofy laugh that belies his standing. He’s really down to Earth for a “big wheel.”

The Green Cross

Toke: How about this neighborhood? Do they like you being here?
Reed: They love us.
Toke: Really?
Reed: Yeah. If there’s any trouble in the neighborhood, we let the police use our cameras.
Toke: You let the police come right in where we are. They can see everything and that’s cool?
Reed: Yes, it is…We invite them in. We are all legal.
Toke: Wow. I can’t imagine the cops in here. There must be ounces and ounces of weed.
Reed: The police love us too. We help them any way we can. The lawyer, who drew up the needle-exchange program for San Francisco, is our lawyer. I spent good money to make sure I do all this right.
Kevin Reed seems the perfect host for the best pot party of the year in the city. Toke of the Town asked Kevin few questions about his Competition.

The Green Cross

Toke: What makes this Competition different?
Reed: The San Francisco Medical Cannabis Competition is a festival centered around celebrating and comparing some of the best strains of medical cannabis available. The event is attended and sponsored by many of the great organizations that comprise the medical cannabis movement of the bay area, including growers, dispensaries, caregivers, and most importantly, patients and supporters of medical cannabis.  
Toke: How hard is it to put on event such as this?  
Reed: Four hundred plus Green Cross man-hours just for us…. That’s not even thinking about all the different collective and sponsors efforts to look good themselves. Its a lot! Plus there is getting it right the first time that must be considered when hosting such an event. It would be offensive to the medical cannabis community at large to put on a terrible or poorly put together event open to the public.  
Toke: Do you want to advertise this as a major event or do you want it to be smaller with more control? 
Reed: It is a major event, at least for our community. The Patients’ Choice is the medical cannabis community’s “Feel Good Event of The Year”!

The Green Cross

Toke: What is the charity aspect of the Competition?   
Reed: All proceeds from the 4th Annual San Francisco Medical Cannabis Competition will benefit the San Francisco Chapter of Americans for Safe Access (ASA SF). Our goal is to give ASA SF the financial stability to ensure that its members can continue in its mission to monitor, implement, and improve medical cannabis laws in California through protection and expansion of patients’ rights, using education, litigation, legislation, grassroots advocacy, and direct support of medical cannabis patients.
Toke: What are your goals? 
Reed: To bring the medical cannabis community together while putting on a celebration for patients to be themselves and socialize amongst like others. 
Toke: Are you aware that you may have the second longest running cannabis competition next to the Emerald Cup up north?
Reed: I did not know that. I do know that High Times told us if we used the words “Cannabis Cup” they would sue us. That is why we are  known now as the Competition. 
Toke: Do you see this getting bigger every year?
Reed: All I can say is that there were many patients that entered the contest believing that outdoor cannabis created in nature’s sun can stand up to the best indoor cannabis any day of the year!
Toke: Last year’s was off the hook, the best party/event involving cannabis. What makes a good event for you?
Reed: Bringing the medical cannabis community together and having a great time.

The Green Cross

Photo: Jack’s Blog
Toke of the Town correspondent Jack Rikess blogs from the Haight in San Francisco.

​Editor’s note: Interviewer Jack Rikess, a former stand-up comic, writes a regular column most directly found at

Jack delivers real-time coverage following the cannabis community, focusing on politics and culture. His beat includes San Francisco, the Bay Area and Mendocino-Humboldt counties.

He has been quoted by the national media and is known for his unique view with thoughtful, insightful perspective.