By 2025 the legal cannabis industry is purported to grow by $30 billion, primarily due to dispensaries evolving into retail spaces. As recreational legalization spreads throughout states, many cannabis dispensaries are evolving into more consumer-friendly retail stores. Many states have transitioned from being a strictly medical dispensary to both medical and recreational, and even dispensaries that have always been recreational are feeling the need to reinvent themselves.
It makes sense that many recreational shops might have an impersonal and sterile feel to them; many operated in a strictly medical capacity before recreational legalization. Like any pharmacy or prescription dispensary, medical marijuana had to be prescribed to be picked up, and retailers did not have the freedom they do now.
However, in the age of recreational dispensaries, customers are genuinely shopping for cannabis. Consumers want people to give recommendations, describe brands, and walk them through the buying process. For example, customers want to know the difference between hemp wraps or flavored wraps and how that will affect the taste of their bud, and they want questions to be answered by personable and knowledgeable staff. Like any retail store, customers want to walk in and be impressed with the creativity of design and decoration. They want to build relationships with dispensaries that fit their style and needs. One example of the innovative ways recreational dispensaries are evolving to fit the industry is a new Los Angeles-based company, Josephine and Billie’s, a speakeasy-style dispensary. Companies of all different kinds are upping their creativity when it comes to their dispensaries.
One trailblazer in the recreational market is the company Urbana. Urbana CEO Marty Higgins has been instrumental in ushering in a new age of dispensaries. Higgins said, “When I entered the cannabis space, it was certainly a different time,” Higgins says. “I actually toured more than 100 dispensaries in the western U.S. and noticed they all kind of looked alike. I began asking everyone, why? But no one had a great answer.” He opened the first Urbana in 2016, designed to be service-centric. Kristi Knoblich Palmer is the co-founder of Kiva Confections, one of the largest edible companies in the United States. She said that Urbana’s concept “…is great because it allows you to go in, grab a basket, browse for as long as you want without pressure and select the brands you like.” Kiva Confections also replicated a similar retail model and has seen outstanding results. Knoblich Palmer added, “It has also been really beneficial for us. Our volume is up, and we continue to see a lot of growth.”
As the recreational cannabis industry continues to boom and grows exponentially, leaders like Higgins will be intrinsic in creating retail spaces for marijuana. The possibilities are endless for new and established dispensaries; entrepreneurs and customers alike get to experience the evolution of dispensary spaces. As Higgins said, “When we were starting in 2015…I think there was a feeling from many of us that we were building an industry as much as we were building our businesses.” The cannabis consumer should be very excited about the burgeoning industry and all it has to offer.