As Marijuana Industry Matures, Pot Shops Skew More High-End

Recreational legalization has dispensaries shifting their aesthetic, becoming more luxe.

As more states legalize marijuana, publicly held stigmas regarding the drug are fading. Acceptance is widening, and the number of users coming out of the cannabis closet is growing.

Along the same path, as state markets which were previously medical-only (or completely underground) expand into the recreational realm, pot shops are skewing more luxe, and have begun offering a high-end retail experience, catering to the ever becoming more-informed consumer.

“The clean-and-modern design makes it easier to stay in legal compliance and just plain makes things work,” Martin Kaufman, of Blüm dispensaries, which operates brick-and-mortar weed stores in Nevada and California––where recreational retail sales just began, and are set to begin in January, respectively––said to Business News Daily.

Blüm stores feature a modern design more conducive to the general consumer. Clean white walls, and sleek minimalist lighting that has the dispensary looking less like somewhere one traditionally buys weed.

“Customers have a clear view of our products and they’re comfortable, but they also don’t feel like they’re being herded through the line at the DMV, which is a huge complaint in our industry,” Kaufman said.

Another means by which dispensaries are stepping up their game, is through customer education and awareness.

"Products were hidden behind counters, while customers were often corralled through a roped-off line, handed a menu, and asked to point, purchase, and move along for the next person"

With so many strain offerings, each capable of eliciting different effects, it can be easy for those less-versed in all things marijuana, to feel overwhelmed or anxious at the dispensary. As the general consumer and legal marijuana customer become one in the same, this is all the more crucial.

"Many early recreational shops, although perhaps unintentionally, continued to perpetuate the stereotype that cannabis … was still taboo,” Brendan Hill, owner of Seattle-based Paper & Leaf, told Business News Daily.

“The sales transaction was to be quick and anonymous. Products were hidden behind counters, while customers were often corralled through a roped-off line, handed a menu, and asked to point, purchase, and move along for the next person," Hill said, noting that this is no longer an acceptable way to do (weed) business.

In Los Angeles, the West Hollywood MedMen storefront is outright shattering any such dodgy experience, and instead comes off more like the “Apple Store of weed.”

MedMen co-founder Adam Bierman told the Los Angeles Times that he sees “the chardonnay mom,” who could potentially replace her wine with weed, as one of the largest yet-to-be-tapped consumer demographics.

“They see this store and say, ‘Oh, I’ll try those breath mints,” Bierman said to the Times.

Today, dispensaries seek ways to ensure that the image of the pot shop, as perceived by the public, is one of legitimacy. This is partly accomplished through increased community engagement.

"Initially, we wanted to establish something that was a community-first place of business," said Jesse Henry, manager of the Barbary Coast Collective in San Francisco’s Mission District.

"Having that good relationship with different neighborhood groups and the city was important to us, so we made that connection first, and established ourselves as an anchor tenant on our block. We wanted to set an example of what a good storefront could look like."

To be sure, the Barbary Coast interior seemingly resembles a modern barbershop, or the lobby of a hip hotel.

This attention to detail is taking hold across the industry, and frankly, isn’t a bad look at all.