© Joe Skodzinski

This issue is packed with lessons—from how to implement cybersecurity and avoid legal pitfalls to preventing serious missteps during interviews with potential employees. But the lesson that resonates most with me is the importance of making customers—whether medical or adult-use—comfortable. As several dispensary owners have mentioned in this magazine, many consumers are new to cannabis and often are nervous when entering a dispensary.

Other dispensary owners have said they tried to create environments in which their grandmother will be comfortable, but where young adults also will feel at home.

Chris Vitris, owner of TerraVida Holistic Centers, mentions in Launchpad that the average age of her patients is 68 years old. I went to the photo shoot at TerraVida’s Abington, Pa., location and was impressed by the spa-like environment (complete with a waterfall) that immediately puts patients at ease. Pennsylvania requires on-site pharmacists, which adds to the professional atmosphere. New patients at TerraVida spend as much time as they need in the consultation room with the pharmacist before even entering the product room. The environment helps elevate not only that dispensary in particular, but legal and regulated cannabis in general.

Green Thumb Industries’ (GTI) RISE dispensaries take a similar approach. While pharmacists aren’t required on site in their non-Pennsylvania locations and many of their dispensaries are now recreational, they nevertheless prioritize customer care. Even customers without medical issues and medical cards, says Pete Kadens, director and CEO of GTI, “want to have that … connection with the care specialist. The interaction is one-on-one and it’s confidential. We do not want to be a crazy transactional place...”

This type of attention is what is going to create long-lasting customer-dispensary trust and connections, as Kadens explains, and I strongly agree.

Colin Kelley, a member of the LeafLine Labs board of governors and former CFO and COO there, also writes in this issue about the evolution of Patient Care Consultants vs. traditional “budtenders”. Patient Care Consultants, while ideal in medical dispensaries, can also be an asset in recreational shops, as both new and experienced consumers want to better understand their options for personal enjoyment and/or therapeutic affects.

My parents are newly registered medical patients in New Jersey, and I hope their first experience is one where they are treated with science-based and compassionate care in a professional and inviting environment, where they are not rushed through the door. Otherwise, you can bet your bottom dollar that they will not be going back to that dispensary. Nor would I.

Noelle Skodzinski, Editorial Director | nskodzinski@gie.net