We went inside the best marijuana shop in America -- here's what it's like

Caliva; marijuana dispensaryLeafly/CalivaCaliva, located in San Jose, California, topped our list of the best marijuana dispensaries in America in 2016.

Recreational marijuana is now legal in California, where patients and enthusiasts alike can light up without a doctor’s note.

Once the market gets up and running, it could generate more in annual retail sales than the $4.69 to $5.76 billion (US$3.5 to US$4.3 billion) that the entire marijuana industry is expected to post in 2016, according to the Marijuana Business Daily.

We visited Caliva, named the best dispensary in America by Business Insider, to see what shopping for pot could be like as the industry grows up.

I stopped by Caliva, located in San Jose, California, on a sunny weekday morning.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

A receptionist greeted me at the front desk and checked my medical marijuana ID card.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

While I waited, I flipped through a book by Leafly, a marijuana dispensary and strain review site, that explained the different effects that strains of pot might produce.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

The receptionist invited me to step inside the shop. With its earthy tones and natural wood paneling, Caliva looked like a hybrid between a surf shop and an Urban Outfitters.

Graphic prints and photos of coastal living hang on the walls.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

You won't find Rastafarian flags or Bob Marley shrines here. Caliva aims to bring the industry to 'higher standards' -- pun intended -- through smart, contemporary design.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Glass display cases show off the dispensary's wares, including marijuana flower grown on the premises. Caliva operates a massive 95,000 square feett cultivation facility.

Courtesy of Caliva

A vape bar includes handmade porcelain and stoneware pipes from Los Angeles-based Miwak Junior. They double as coffee table art, catering to the artisanal market.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Brandon Siddall, Caliva's head budtender, says the Pax is the hottest gadget on shelves. The device, which has been called the 'iPhone of vaporizers' delivers smooth hits of vapour.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

The edibles industry is exploding nationwide, and Caliva stocks a variety of savoury treats and sweets. They include lozenges, drinks, tinctures, and desserts.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Plus Gum, created by a former Facebook employee, delivers 25 milligrams of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in weed. The gum gets users high faster than most edibles because it's absorbed through the lining of the mouth.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider

Siddall says the Kiva Terra Bites, M&M-sized candies coated in chocolate that's infused with marijuana extract, are one of their best-selling items. Each pieces contains just five milligrams of THC, making it easy to customise a dose.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider

While some dispensaries keep their budtenders behind bulletproof glass, Caliva makes the interaction a more authentic one by removing barriers between patients and staff.

The budtender's job is to channel their expertise into guiding patients through the retail experience, much like Apple technicians at the Genius Bar. They train on every product.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

If the customer is new to legal weed, the budtender might ask what kind of experience they're hoping for on a scale of NyQuil to DayQuil. Do they want rest or energy?

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Flower gets packaged in these child-proof, Caliva-branded canisters.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Loyalty cards give patients special perks, like two free tacos on Tuesday with every $60 (US$45) purchase. Caliva commissions a food truck to park out front.

Courtesy of Caliva

Patients can pay cash or credit using a mobile payments platform.

Courtesy of Caliva

The dispensary currently only sells to California residents with medical marijuana licenses, but may look to enter the recreational market once that rolls out in 2018.

Courtesy of Caliva

Source: Business Insider

Since Caliva opened shop in July 2015, the dispensary has contributed over $4.02 million (US$3 million) in tax revenue to San Jose -- making it one of the single largest taxpayers in the city.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

How did Caliva become such a cash cow? Two words: Vertical integration.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Caliva's on-site nursery produces some 50% to 60% of the dispensary's total flower. Most dispensaries in the Bay Area source their bud from regional farmers.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Growers cut mature plants to create genetic clones, ensuring consistency from harvest to harvest. 'This is not your grandma's basement,' one of the growers tells me.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Caliva sends its plants to three different California labs to check potency and quality, and runs tests in-house to get a better understanding of marijuana's properties.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Besides the 1,000 pot plants growing out back, Caliva is a pretty typical retailer.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.