April is National Cannabis Awareness Month and while the 30-day period is dedicated to shedding light on the medicinal properties of the infamous plant, one Turlock dispensary’s mission is to do so every day of the year.
Perfect Union became Turlock’s latest retail cannabis dispensary to open for business via the City’s cannabis pilot program last September — the second of four businesses ranked and chosen by City officials from countless applicants. While most dispensaries in the Valley are known for their hip “budtenders,” stoner-approved playlists and cool-kid vibes, Perfect Union founder and CEO David Spradlin has made it his mission to get back to the root of the plant through his business.
“When people come to these places, they should be cared for and they should be educated on what they’re buying. It shouldn’t just be about what the highest THC is and getting high, it should be about what all the other parts of this plant can do for them and how it’s going to help them process whatever they need to process,” Spradlin said. “It’s not about the rap music or reggae music playing and selling as much as you can...it really is about helping people who are sick, and I believe anyone coming to our store is seeking some kind of wellness.”
Spradlin started out in the cannabis industry with virtually no knowledge or experience. He worked in construction, but began legally growing cannabis on his property in Placer County with the help of a friend as the economy began to crash in 2007. Since then he has built one of the state’s most-successful retail cannabis chains, with 10 stores located in cities throughout the state, including Turlock and Riverbank, and more in the works.
Prior to approving a cannabis pilot program, the City of Turlock had a ban on the retail sale of marijuana within city limits. Fast forward to Perfect Union’s 2019 application process to operate in the city, which consisted of public meetings with comments and concerns from the community, and Spradlin knew it would be a challenge to win over Turlock citizens who had their doubts.
“The City of Turlock definitely had a raised eyebrow early on about what they were going to get through this process,” said Spradlin, who has opened retail locations in cities with demographics similar to Turlock’s before. “It’s our responsibility to put people's minds at ease in the way we do business...I think Turlock did a really great job at saying, ‘Look, let’s regulate this, let’s pick the best operators and let’s try it out in a very cautious and responsible way.’ They put us through the ringer and made us jump through a lot of hoops to put everybody at ease, and that’s how it should be. We were happy to go through those hoops.”
Spradlin believes Turlock’s attitude toward cannabis may be changing as the two already-opened dispensaries continue to operate with little issue in town. They’ve made it a point to give back locally in addition to the revenue they’re providing to the City through a development agreement. Mayor Amy Bublak, who has openly stated she believes federal law should be followed when it comes to the recreational and medicinal drug, even attended Perfect Union’s ribbon cutting ceremony last year to celebrate the opening of the new business.
“It was a huge step and I was honored,” Spradlin said of Bublak’s appearance. “I thought it spoke to the open mindedness of the city. It’s definitely cautious, but open minded.”
Spradlin has seen firsthand how the medicinal qualities of cannabis have helped others, whether it’s through the countless testimonial letters sent to him from appreciative customers or his own family. His nephew, now a teen, was placed on hospice care at age 10 due to a rare form of childhood cancer. Medicinal cannabis helped him have an appetite and deal with pain during that time, Spradlin said, and now his tumors have thankfully stopped growing over the years.
It was because of situations like these that Spradlin started Perfect Union in an effort to help those who are suffering — and those who want a way to unwind. Perfect Union staff is educated on every part of the plant, making sure that customers know what they’re buying and why they’re buying it.
“We wanted to do everything we could to take the science of it and transfer that information to the people who need it,” Spradlin said. “At the very basic level, it really can make you feel better...it’s a powerful thing. Life’s tough and it’s not getting any easier, so to be able to sit and be centered, especially during a year like this, is important to some people.”
While Perfect Union is truly just beginning its expansion throughout the state — Spradlin is looking to open stores as far north as Crescent City and as far south as San Diego — the pandemic could open doors for other jurisdictions he never thought possible as cities and counties look for extra revenue due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
In February, the City of Turlock said it is expecting $1.07 million in cannabis development agreement income just from the two retail stores that are open. As for the residents, Spradlin hopes the community continues to keep an open mind and uses this month to research the often-controversial cannabis plant.
“We’re open now and the sky hasn’t fallen,” Spradlin laughed.
Perfect Union is located at 2500 N. Golden State Blvd. and can be reached at 209-252-0039.