First Cannabis Retail Shop Opens in Laguna Woods

The Artist Tree, the first licensed cannabis dispensary in Laguna Woods, has officially opened its doors, marking a significant milestone for South Orange County. This development adds Laguna Woods to the short list of cities in the region that have embraced local cannabis sales. The dispensary’s grand opening took place on Friday, May 31, 2024, and it promises to enhance the cannabis culture and retail landscape in the area.

Laguna Woods was the first city to pass an ordinance allowing medical marijuana dispensaries back in 2008. However, due to pushback and limited available commercial storefronts, it would be years before serious conversations about opening a cannabis retail shop took place. Meanwhile, neighboring cities like Santa Ana and Costa Mesa had already allowed dispensaries to operate, leaving Laguna Woods residents with a considerable drive to access legal cannabis products.

Easier Access for Seniors

The Artist Tree’s opening in Laguna Woods is particularly significant for the large nearby senior population. Most of the city falls within the gates of Laguna Woods Village, a nearly 4-square-mile community exclusively for those aged 55 and older. Many of the village’s 18,000+ residents deal with chronic pain and other health issues. For them, the drive to Santa Ana or Costa Mesa was often challenging and inconvenient.

Maureen Mehler, who suffers from spinal stenosis, expressed relief at having a local dispensary. She mentioned that the drive to Santa Ana was “a nightmare,” and she now enjoys the convenience of shopping for cannabis products without leaving her community. Similarly, Peggy Edwards, who deals with essential tremors, found that cannabis helps manage her symptoms. She appreciates having an accessible option for relief.

Therapeutic Benefits

Lauren Fontein, co-founder of The Artist Tree, emphasized the therapeutic potential of cannabis. She explained that there is growing evidence supporting its use for pain relief, arthritis, anxiety, and other health conditions. The dispensary’s other locations have also seen a significant percentage of senior customers, highlighting the demand for accessible and quality cannabis products.

The opening of The Artist Tree in Laguna Woods represents a positive step forward for cannabis accessibility in South Orange County. As more cities recognize the benefits of legal cannabis sales, residents can look forward to improved quality of life and relief from various health conditions.

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