Not to state the obvious, but it’s becoming increasingly clear: Cannabis is becoming less of a counterculture preoccupation, comfortably settled on the societal fringes, and more of a beneficial necessity that’s part of the mainstream consciousness. That’s thanks, in part, to people like Megan Stone. She’s a cannabis-focused interior designer who’s elevating the retail-oriented landscape. A recipient of VMSD Magazine’s 2015 Designer Dozen Award, the Phoenix-based entrepreneur founded The High Road Design Studio in 2013. Megan sat down with PRØHBTD to talk about how she accidentally got into the business, what’s next and why she’s a cannabis purist.
How did you get into this business?
I came to this path in kind of a serendipitous way. I’m originally from Minnesota, and in 2007, the company I was working for relocated me to Palm Springs. I realized I was now living in a place with a medical marijuana law, so I went and got my card. I just knew I liked it! From doctor’s offices to dispensaries, I was amazed by how poor the experience was, how clandestine and shady it felt.
I moved to Newport Beach and started attending the Interior Designers Institute. I also started going to a new dispensary, Orange County’s Patient Care. The second time I went, the owner asked me if I wanted to be a budtender. I went home and bragged to all my friends I’d gotten offered a job selling pot legally, which was the coolest thing in the world to them. I took it solely as a fun, casual source of income, but I was there only a week and already in love with what was going on. The patients you see, people you work with, product you get to sell: I loved being a part of it.
As the dispensary grew, the owner gave me the opportunity to do some simple aesthetic upgrades, like paint the walls and switch out the floors. We were doing basic things, but people were already starting to call us “the Tiffany’s of dispensaries.” It was obvious these shops could be just as cool as, you know, the brewery or yogurt shop down the street. I was promoted to general manager. This was the same time Colorado and Washington were legalizing recreational. I realized this was my thing. I had a chance to invent my career and provide something this industry was going to need, if not soon, then very quickly. I stopped being a dispensary employee and started being a dispensary designer.
Tell us about what you do.
I’ve gotten to work with dispensary owners all across the country, getting to help them in all stages of the game. For instance, providing them with compliant floor plans and visuals so they can obtain a license and sell the image of a community-centered, professional dispensary to investors to designing custom display cases and procuring the furniture for my client’s completed projects.The dispensary is literally where the public comes in contact with the cannabis industry. By reinventing that experience to be something positive and connected is really important to the growth and sustainability of this industry, as opposed to something that’s put on the sidelines, the way strip clubs are.
What do you love about your job?
I do this because, for so many people, cannabis is life-changing and crucial to the quality of their lives and health—buying it should be an experience that reflects that. You look at the people going into a dispensary, and it’s kind of a cross-section of society, like a gas station. Everybody uses gas, and all walks of life use cannabis. The cannabis industry is really my entire life. I live and breathe this industry every minute of the day. I never thought that, when I took a job as a budtender, it could turn into a career or something I might share with a person I could potentially share my life with. It’s also really hard to predict stuff in this industry. Things happen really fast, and they’re constantly changing.