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East Bay Natives Open First Martinez Cannabis Dispensary

MARTINEZ, CA — The first fully permitted and licensed retail cannabis dispensary in Central Costa County quietly opened its doors in May in Martinez.

After a four-year wait, Velvet Cannabis opened at 4808 Sunrise Drive, near the state Highway 4 interchange with Interstate Highway 680.

Velvet Cannabis founders Matt Morea and Farid Harrison — both East Bay natives — sought to bring a refined retail experience to the area. The result, they say, is a sleek and sophisticated interior design, an expertly trained staff and a reliable menu of world-class cannabis.

“We are extremely excited to bring what we believe is an elevated experience in cannabis to the East Bay,” Morea said. “This region has been underserved for a long time, forcing people along the 680 corridor to drive to Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco and beyond. We are not only giving them a place in their own backyard but have created a destination that is efficient, comfortable, and highly personalized.”

Morea, who was born and raised in San Ramon, and Harrison, who was born and raised in Walnut Creek, have been best friends for more than 15 years.

Morea had a career in corporate sales and management, while Harrison worked in tech sales and real estate. Anxious for a change, and with the impending legalization of recreational cannabis in California in 2018, they decided to get into the business of something they loved, and the vision of Velvet was born.

To get where they are now, employing a staff of 40, required much patience.

“We met the property owner in March of 2017 and we first submitted our application [to the city of Martinez] in September of 2017, and we were awarded a license in October 2019,” Harrison told Patch in a phone interview.

“We very specifically were looking in the city of Martinez, because we thought it was going to be one of the first municipalities to allow this,” Harrison said, referring to retail sale of marijuana.

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