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Pot classes in session

Daily Pilot

Newport couple hope their new ‘medical marijuana information center’ will help
dissolve stigmas associated with the illegal drug.

Chadd and Alysha McKeen exhibit six 3-foot-tall marijuana plants growing inside
their new Costa Mesa storefront.

“I want to tell people to stop being afraid of it,” said Chadd McKeen,
co-founder of Otherside Farms. “We want to bring it out into the open.”

The McKeens also put in new tile and ripped the bars off the windows at the
center, which sits between a dog-grooming business and a therapeutic spa. It’s
all part of an effort to make the place appear open and inviting.

The shop at 2424 Newport Blvd. bills itself as a “medical marijuana information
center.” It offers classes on everything from how to grow marijuana for
medicinal purposes to how to make pot brownies. The six plants growing
underneath special lights in one foil-padded room of the shop are strictly for
teaching purposes, the couple said.

“It’s all self-taught,” Alysha McKeen said of the couple’s cultivation skills.
“That learning curve is expensive, so we want to share what we know with

The new information center is offering two-day weekend workshops on the basics
of growing marijuana, including lighting, air flow and growing equipment.

People can walk in to find out where to get a doctor’s referral for medical
marijuana, or how to find an attorney who specializes in medical-marijuana

The couple also plan to organize legal workshops on medical-marijuana issues.

There have been bumps along the way to opening Otherside Farms.

It took the couple nearly a month to get a business license from Costa Mesa,
Chadd McKeen said, because the city was concerned that the McKeens were trying
to open up a marijuana dispensary, he said.

City officials have served cease-and-desist orders on half a dozen
medical-marijuana dispensaries in Costa Mesa in recent weeks. Police raided two
more this week, arresting workers on suspicion of felony drug violations.

While Otherside Farms runs a medical-marijuana delivery service, which serves
cities across Los Angeles and Orange counties, the Costa Mesa shop is just a
place where people can learn more about how to smoke, grow and bake with pot,
the McKeens said.

“We took possession of the place on a Friday night, and the city was here at 8
a.m. Monday morning banging on the door,” Chadd McKeen said. “The city flipped
out. Nobody knew what to do with us.”

Pot classes in session

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