SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Ray Taylor’s wife thought he was crazy.
With more than 30 years of running a successful car show in Southern California under his belt, and a previous career working as an engineer, Taylor could have easily retired. Instead, he began a new career in medical cannabis.
“I’m 70 years old,” Taylor said. “This will probably be my last hurrah and I want to go out doing something that will really help people.”
After two years and more than three-quarters of a million dollars, Taylor opened The Healing Center in March. Although small, with a retail space of just 450 square feet, the dispensary registered more than 800 patients in the first month. Taylor believes the warm reception from the medical community is due to the store’s atmosphere and design.
With limited space to work with, The Healing Center uses high ceilings to create an open atmosphere without compromising the selection of products for patients. The use of silver along the floors, furniture and walls gives the space an upscale look. Contrasting the various shades of white in the color scheme is a royal purple suede wall running the length of the dispensary.
Aside from the fresh, clean look, The Healing Center had to meet the city of San Diego’s specific criteria for medical dispensaries to be allowed to open their doors to the cardholding public.
A fresh look isn’t the only thing that helps the dispensary stand apart. The city of San Diego had specific criteria that had to be met before medical marijuana dispensaries could be opened to the cardholding public. Taylor and business partner Jim Dickenson had to retrofit the entire location, including the parking lot — which was two feet short of the required length for a medical marijuana dispensary. And the entire store had to be bulletproof — literally.
“The glass alone was $40,000,” Taylor said. “The city planning commission wanted us to have two armed guards. I said, ‘You know it’s only 450 square feet right? They’ll be holding hands.’”
Security issues are what prompted Taylor to enter the cannabis industry, he said. Taylor had seen the deplorable conditions of the dispensary a family member would visit to treat her epilepsy. He made a promise that if San Diego ever opened the door for medical marijuana, he would open a dispensary patrons could be proud of.
“Sure enough, in February the city of San Diego came out with a way to do it legally,” Taylor said. “My family called me up and said, ‘Well?’”