As many businesses struggle to remain open under the state’s coronavirus restrictions, one new company in Arvin is making a killing.
420 Kingdom, a cannabis delivery service that opened in June, has exceeded its owners’ expectations. The closest legal dispensary to Bakersfield, the company delivers marijuana products to residents within an hour of the order going through, and discounts customers if the drivers don’t make it to their destination on time.
For Jeffrey Thorn, one of 420 Kingdom’s co-owners, the coronavirus shutdowns and lack of other legal options created the perfect storm for the company’s grand opening.
“We have delivered over 2,500 deliveries. We average about 80 a day,” he said. “That’s knocking it out of the park, home run. I didn’t expect that at all.”
Both the Bakersfield City Council and the Kern County Board of Supervisors have banned cannabis from being sold within the municipalities’ borders. Individuals are allowed to possess cannabis, but dispensaries aren't allowed to legally operate.
Only California City and Arvin have passed ordinances allowing cannabis to be sold within city limits. In Arvin, 420 Kingdom was the first dispensary to open, and it hopes to present a clean-cut image to the public. The company doesn't sell out of a storefront. Its property in Arvin functions as a warehouse and grow room, which will expand in the near future.
The main competition comes from the illegal dispensaries that proliferate throughout the Bakersfield metro area, but Thorn said his customers want to make purchases legally.
“Our customers, they want to know what they’re getting and putting in their bodies is healthy and has been tested,” he said. “That market segment has been left out. Doctors, lawyers, professional people, people that you would have never dreamed had an appetite for cannabis are placing orders.”
A serial entrepreneur born and raised in Bakersfield, Thorn said he sold his stake in local business Worklogic HR in order to pursue the cannabis industry. In 2016 he voted against marijuana legalization, but said the medical benefits changed his mind.
“One of the nice jewels that have come out of this is when I’m on a phone call with some 75 or 80 year old grandma or grandpa who wants to try it,” he said. “They’re not trying to get high, they’re seeing it for the medical reasons.”
For some in the marijuana industry, the success of 420 Kingdom can be linked to a greater acceptance of cannabis among the general public.
“It’s been a huge change and I think it’s just going to continue getting better and better and better,” said Jason Thomasy, vice president of business development at Greenleaf HR, a Bakersfield company that provides human resource services for marijuana companies across the country.
He said when the business started two years ago, as a spinoff of Worklogic, companies were slow to buy into their services. Now, he said the marijuana industry is keeping him busy.
“If it hadn’t been for the hemp and the cannabis industry, I’m busier than I even know what to do with,” he said.
While the law only allows cannabis companies to deliver into Bakersfield and unincorporated Kern County, Thomasy said that could change soon.
“I think that the county itself is finally going to have to realize how much tax dollars they are missing out on,” he said.
Later, he added that the people of Bakersfield could also change their minds.
“They don’t realize what’s being missed out, they’re not realizing what other counties and states are doing.”