Santa Ana & Irvine Among Nation's "Highest" Cities?

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Jay Brockman
Orange County boasts not one but two of the ten "highest" cities in America.

This surprising news comes courtesy of the real estate blog, which ranked cities based on criteria including the number of dispensaries, head shops, "medical pot cards" as well as whether the state where they are located has legalized recreational or medical marijuana.

But are the two towns--Santa Ana and Irvine--that made the OC list really so pot friendly?

Here's what Movato says about Santa Ana and Irvine, which respectively ranked sixth and seventh on the list:

Santa Ana placed seventh overall in terms of per-capita dispensaries, having one for every 8,903 residents. It also managed a second-place finish for head shops, with one of those for every 10,981 folks who live in the city. It didn't earn any points for pot festivals and events, since it doesn't have any actually based within its city limits. Sorry, folks, we're pretty picky about our data.

Proving that pot smokers come from every walk of life, the uber-affluent Orange County city of Irvine found its way into our top 10. Its placing had more to do with per-capita head shops than dispensaries, though; it has one place to purchase paraphernalia for every 15,395 residents, versus one dispensary for every 43,106 people who call it home. Like pretty much every city in California, Irvine tied for fifth place in terms of medical marijuana card holders. Just shy of 1.5 percent of the people who live there have one.

So how do Movato's rankings square with reality?

Santa Ana, like its neighbor Anaheim, is one of the last places in Orange County where you can find actual walk-in dispensaries. But the city has banned them, and the DEA has conducted raids at those who have defied the ban, causing some to switch to deliveries only or move elsewhere. Moreover, as the Weekly reported late last year, the city sent letters to the remaining clubs, threatening them with fines if they didn't leave town.

And Irvine? Pot friendly? Unless we're missing something, there's not a single dispensary in the entire city. Sure, according to Weedmaps, there are several delivery services that service the Irvine/Tustin area, but it's hard to see how the town merited a "20" ranking on Movato's dispensary proliferation chart. According to the blog's chart, which you can see here, Irvine got a big bump from having so many head shops, something else that's news to us, seeing how there's only a handful of them there according to Yelp.

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Scott Duke Harris
Scott Duke Harris

The OC Weekly should interview Sac Bee reporter Peter Hecht about soon-to-be-released book "Weed Land" from the University of California Press--the definitive account of California's role in the marijuana movement. Hecht is a graduate of Santa Ana High and former editor of the CSUF Daily Titan.


They must be counting tobacco stores (Shamrock Smoke, etc) as "head shops" ... 

paullucas714 topcommenter

With Colorado and Washington coming online this month, the push to end prohibition of cannabis now has Capitalism in its corner. The last few skirmishes will be winding down at an ever increasing pace.


I wonder if my hometown of Huntington Beach would win for "Most Drunken Idiots on Main Street". :-D

paullucas714 topcommenter

The war is over. Quash skirmishes.

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