Weed Wars

Dispatches from the California Marijuana Front

August 3, 2010
Salesman pitched RV fun, now offers 'wellness' and medical pot

onelove1.JPGLast year as his recreational vehicle business was going to pot, Lino Catabran came up with a back-up plan -- going into the pot business.

Now the former home of RV Brokers Inc. on Sacramento's El Camino Avenue is the home of the One Love Wellness Center medical marijuana dispensary.

Last August, Catabran cited the recession and declining revenues in announcing he was shuttering a recreational vehicle business that once totaled three Sacramento sales outlets, 40 employees and $15 million in annual sales.

At the time, he told the Sacramento Business Journal: "I always felt I wasn't selling RV's. I was selling fun."

He's now draws a salary as an officer for One Love Wellness, a non-profit collective for more than 8,000 registered medical marijuana users.

"And this is more fun," he says. "I mean, truly. There is no service department. There is no warranty department. And there are very few unhappy customers."

Catabran registered the marijuana collective with the City of Sacramento last June, just making the cutoff as the city was about to impose a moratorium on new pot shops. It opened its doors in November.

At the El Camino Avenue location, where Catabran once could get you a deal on a 2008 Big Foot motor home and a 2009 Teton Prestige fifth wheel camper, his staff now serves up Sour Diesel and Hindu Kush medical marijuana. The dispensary also offers massage therapy and yoga classes.

Catabran, who worked 17 years selling motor homes, also sold Porsches at the same site years earlier. Now, as an employee for the pot outlet, he says, "I'm drawing one fifth of what I was making in the RV business. I can say that much."

Catabran says he was a recreational user for more than 40 years before he obtained a physician's recommendation and formally became a marijuana patient.

Though One Love Wellness must operate as a non-profit under existing medical marijuana laws, that could change if California voters approve Proposition 19 to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Catabran said One Love Wellness would be able to reorganize as a for-profit business if the legalization measure passes and it chooses to do so.

But he doubts he will stick around long enough to run any retail pot dealership. At 62, he's hoping to retire soon. And he says learning the ropes of the medical cannabis trade was challenging enough.

"I had to learn everything," he says, "except to smoke."

Pictured: Lino Catabran and the medicinal remake of his RV dealership. Peter Hecht/phecht@sacbee.com

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