Nearly a year and a half ago, cannabis dispensary Farmacy beat out five other dispensary candidates for a competitive storefront slot: the college town of Isla Vista.
Now Farmacy has enjoyed a month in its new Pardall Road location, serving college students and I.V. residents and promoting their mission to “make people feel better with plants,” as founder and president of Farmacy parent company Glass House Brands Graham Farrar put it.
Farrar — who runs a successful chain of Farmacy storefronts and manages both growth and production of cannabis products in California under the Glass House group — grew up in the Santa Barbara area and spent time in I.V. in his high school years. He said he considers bringing I.V.’s first dispensary to fruition “an honor.”
“I’m passionate about cannabis, and I’m passionate about it making people’s lives better,” Farrar said. “We feel really lucky to be out there, and we hope that all the residents of Isla Vista and UCSB love it as much as we do. We built it just for them, and we hope they love it.”
Farmacy opened its doors a month ago, on Dec. 15. While UC Santa Barbara’s winter break meant a quieter first two weeks, students’ return to I.V. in January has brought new and eager customers.
“We’ve just been getting busier and busier every day. And I think it’s getting great feedback from the community. People are super stoked,” Farrar said.
For Farrar, the new storefront is an opportunity to bring the I.V. community directly into the continually developing California cannabis industry — a countrywide leader in progressive cannabis laws and products.
“Everybody at UCSB, if they grew up in California, has never known illegal cannabis, right. Like, there’s always been cannabis if you’re 21 or 22 years old — medical cannabis started in California 26 years ago. So everybody out there kind of lives in this world,” he said.
“Now, finally, they have something of their own, in a neighborhood where they can go.” Farrar said. “They don’t have to wonder what they’re getting. They don’t have to hunt somebody out. They can just walk into the store and have a veritable cornucopia of options in front of them.”
He emphasized the positive possibilities of cannabis — whether it helps customers sleep, deal with anxiety or enjoy themselves on a Friday night, Farmacy’s mission is to provide regulated, safe cannabis products that can also serve as alternatives to more unhealthy options.
“Alcohol kills. Cigarettes kill. Cannabis doesn’t,” Farrar summed up.
Courtney Frazer, Farmacy’s community liaison and I.V. location floor supervisor, said that Farmacy and Glass House Brands place a unique emphasis on bettering the communities they serve — beginning with the community fund, the portion of store sales that are allocated to community organizations and nonprofits.
“I see that our communities and the community [have] a say … in how their dollars are being spent,” said Frazer, who works on the community fund. “I’m really happy to see the Farmacy setting an example of the good that cannabis can actually do.”
“If we’re able to pay for kids to go to summer camp or put some money towards parks and [recreation] or help some kids get scholarships to go to college, we believe that cannabis can do good for our community,” she continued.
Farmacy hasn’t finalized decisions on what I.V. community groups it will be partnering with, and Farrar encouraged interested organizations to drop their information off at the storefront.
Frazer also said she prioritizes selling cannabis products from diverse backgrounds and employing a diverse variety of workers.
“My advocacy specifically involves bringing visibility to Black-owned brands and women-owned brands and seeing more women be open with their cannabis use, the positive and healing side of their cannabis use,” she said. “It’s been really inspiring to know that people have a space to explore things without shame, whether that be for job purposes or for medicinal purposes.”
Frazer said that customers have been braving the recent storms and bad weather to visit the dispensary.
“We are still weed on the beach,” she said jokingly. “We’re hoping that people really enjoy the positivity that we have in our building because we really love what we do, and I think that that reflects that on our floor.”
Farrar concurred that the vision of a positive and vibrant cannabis dispensary had been realized in Farmacy’s I.V. location.
“I think that [it] came out amazing. I hope you guys agree,” he said. “We realized our vision of that modern, beachy, clean, approachable, accessible, nothing-to-be-embarrassed-of destigmatizing of cannabis.”
A version of this article appeared on p. 1 of the Jan. 19, 2023 print edition of the Daily Nexus.