My first assignment for mg Magazine in early 2019 took me into the affluent Los Angeles neighborhood of Woodland Hills to profile a dispensary called Atrium. The opulent salon-meets-jewelry shop’s floor glistened in a flood of natural light. The attentive, diverse staff thrummed around the open floor with iPads, offering recommendations and patiently explaining each product. Design-forward brands like dosist and Canndescent had claimed their own sections of the store, meticulously presenting their products in an environment that finally felt appropriate.
During the hour or so I spent taking in the details, I watched as new consumers timidly handed over their IDs at the door before the tension fell from their shoulders and they stepped into the impeccably designed, open space. This was not a drug deal.
Design is the unsung hero of cannabis’s path toward normalization. Since states started legalizing adult use, branding, packaging, and stores’ interior design have been systematically dismantling the outdated stereotypes rolled up with the plant since the late 1960s.
“It’s the Trojan horse of this industry,” said cannabis retail pioneer Megan Stone, whose High Road Design Studio was the first to bring elevated retail architecture to dispensaries beginning a couple of cannabis eras