There are officially hundreds, if not thousands, of medical marijuana dispensaries peppered throughout our country. It has taken a long time to get to this point, but now that we’re here most of us have a pretty good idea of what the inside of a dispensary looks like. However, in recent years the aesthetic of a dispensary has started to have a lot of variation. In Los Angeles I find dispensaries that range anywhere from a dirty and sketchy building that I highly doubt has the proper certifications, to pristine and beautiful locations that have more security than I think is necessary. In the next few years there is a good chance that we will finally see the industry hammer out what a dispensary should really look like. Now that owners are finally getting past the first few years of uncertainty, we’re starting to see some major investments into making a perfect environment for purchasing your cannabis in. I expect that all of the other dispensaries will be forced to follow suit or be lost in the crowd.
Originally the thought process behind medical dispensaries was one of two natures. On the one hand the shops didn’t want to attract too much attention to themselves for fear that the DEA would decide to crack down on them and conduct a raid. On the other hand they wanted to keep the state governments as happy as they could by replicating the experience of going to a doctor’s office, since this is medical marijuana after all. This gave people two choices of either a hole in the wall dispensary that left people feeling unsafe, or an overly sterile and bright aesthetic that left people feeling almost as uncomfortable as if they were going in for a dreaded doctor’s appointment. Many dispensaries are now trying to find a happy medium that is more similar to a plastic surgeon’s office. One line of dispensaries that is leading the way, The Clinic, is starting to really prioritize their store aesthetics. In 2009 they spent $150,000 and $100,000 on their first two store locations. This year they spent over 10 times that much on their new $1 million flagship store in Denver. They hope to use it as a model for all of their new stores in the future that currently operate in Illinois and Nevada as well.
These dispensary owners aren’t just throwing money out for no reason, though. The new layouts essentially work as a salesman in their own right. Dispensaries are starting to really draw attention to their concentrates which have exploded in popularity even within the last few years. In 2013, concentrate sales made up only about 7 percent of The Clinic’s profits, but now they are looking at closer to a whopping 33 percent of their sales coming from concentrated cannabis. That is a massive increase of over 400 percent, which no smart business man can ignore. Many dispensaries are also incorporating music into their stores that will make the average smoker feel nostalgic of the good times they’ve had with cannabis in the past. I don’t know what my exact ideal buying experience would be at a dispensary, but I’m more than happy to see the dirty shops, that leave me feeling like I’ve done something illegal, to finally disappear altogether.