Adrienne Scales-Williams made history Jan. 21 when she opened Luxury Leaf, Missouri’s first Black-owned medical cannabis dispensary.
That’s just the beginning of the story, as Scales-Williams and her team plan to let patients’ needs guide the St. Louis-based business as it looks toward adult-use legalization, which could become a reality later this year as grassroots organizations work to send the issue to Missouri’s 2022 ballot.
Scales-Williams entered the cannabis space in 2018, when she applied for a business license in Michigan. Shortly thereafter, Missouri voters legalized medical cannabis in the 2018 election, and Scales-Williams moved back to her home state, where she ultimately won a cannabis retail license.
“It’s close … to home, so it seems like it would be a perfect scenario for me to work in the community I’m more comfortable with, knowing I can make a difference in the community and offer some alternatives to medicine,” she says. “We’re looking to give [patients] different alternatives in the healing process that they can get from the plant.”
Jamila Owens-Todd, Luxury Leaf’s general manager, says the dispensary’s first day of operations last week was “a great success” with the local community—and also those from farther corners of the state—turning out on opening day.
“It’s very much a boutique-style [dispensary], not just in its décor, but in its curated experience, where we walk with the patient throughout the entire facility,” Owens-Todd says. “It really is a concierge service, where the focus is surrounding the patient, maximizing patient experience and, obviously, providing a quality product. We’re hand-picking those products to be the highest quality products in the state.”
With the store’s soft opening behind them, Scales-Williams and Owens-Todd are looking forward to an upcoming ribbon cutting with St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones.
In launching the first Black-owned cannabis dispensary in Missouri, Scales-Williams hopes to be a trailblazer for women and women of color, to prove that they have an opportunity to enter the industry.
“They can see [that] someone who looks like them and acts like them can be successful in this particular marketplace,” she says.
Luxury Leaf aims to offer a boutique retail experience, with what Scales-Williams calls a “clean, exciting” space and the opportunity to get a one-on-one consultation with a naturopathic physician.
“We are the only dispensary, to my knowledge, that has a naturopathic doctor working for us,” she says. “That brings about a whole different experience for patients because we’re listening to what their ailments are and making sure that we can make the best recommendation to help them in their journey to healing.”
Owens-Todd says that while Luxury Leaf may not be able to offer all the exciting and trendy products that adult-use consumers have access to in more mature markets out west, the team is focused on curating the best possible flower from Missouri’s cultivators.
“Right now, flower is always a trend—that’s always the way to go,” she says. “You’re seeing different variations of how flower is sold. Initially, it was quarters and eighths, and now we’re getting down to gram envelopes being sold, which really helps to expand the offerings across economic lines.”
The Luxury Leaf team is interested in water-soluble products, as well, Owens-Todd adds, and the company is partnering with manufacturers that produce THC-infused beverages and tablets.
In the short-term, Scales-Williams and company are focused on providing Luxury Leaf’s patients with the best medical cannabis retail experience possible.
“If our patients are wanting a specific type of product, or they want a space to consume, we’re able to make those additions and changes to our business,” Owens-Todd says.
The timeline of adult-use legalization will ultimately guide the business in the longer-term.
“I’m hoping that it gets on the ballot for 2022,” Scales-Williams says. “I’m looking forward to that, to being able to service both [markets]."