By Marissa Willman
Medical marijuana dispensaries might not usually be related to yoga studios, fitness classes or art galleries, but a Palm Springs dispensary is going to change that.
“We’re trying to raise the bar and be a model for how [dispensaries] should be run,” said Palm Springs Safe Access co-founder Cody Henderson. His mission, with partners Robert Van Roo and Alice Jensen, is to create a dispensary that is more than a place for patients to get their medicine. Henderson and his partners hope to see Palm Springs Safe Access become a community-focused holistic healing center that focuses on more than just medicine.
Henderson and his partners decided to start their own dispensary after years of involvement in the medical marijuana industry.
“It’s a movement we’ve been behind since the beginning,” Henderson said. “It’s our passion and now our career.”
Henderson and Van Roo moved to the desert from San Francisco, where Henderson said a number of dispensaries are already focusing their efforts on giving back to the community. According to Henderson, there is unlimited potential in what dispensaries could be doing to foster community involvement and outreach. For Palm Springs Safe Access, a yoga studio and art gallery will be the foundation for the dispensary’s mission to serve the community.
This summer, Palm Springs Safe Access will finish construction of its 900-square foot yoga and dance studio. In addition to yoga and dance classes, the facility hopes to offer kung fu or kickboxing classes, as well. Henderson hopes to begin offering classes by mid-June.
And since dispensaries operate as non-profits, Palm Springs Safe Access will offer their classes free of charge.
“Everything will be free,” Henderson said. “After payroll and overhead, [the dispensary’s] money should be going back into the community.”
In addition to the yoga studio, Palm Springs Safe Access also converted part of their facility into an art gallery. It seemed to be a perfect fit for Henderson, a painter, and Van Roo, a photographer. The gallery will feature work by local artists and rely heavily on patient recommendations for its galleries.
“It’s for the patients, by the patients,” Henderson said, adding that the show is currently being curated.
Henderson hopes that the Palm Springs Safe Access approach toward benefiting the community will influence other dispensaries in the Coachella Valley to explore new ways to give back.
“Every single one of these places boasts about helping their patients,” Henderson said, “but we believe there’s a bigger impact that can be made here.”
Palm Springs Safe Access is one of several dispensaries applying for the fourth dispensary permit to be offered by the city of Palm Springs. In the meantime, the dispensary cannot cultivate on-site.
Henderson is hopeful that Palm Springs Safe Access will be granted a permit since the dispensary is in a building that had previously been awarded a permit. Henderson and his partners have extensively renovated a Palm Springs building that was once the location of the CannaHelp dispensary.
While waiting for Palm Springs to issue its fourth dispensary permit, Palm Springs Safe Access will continue focusing on giving back to the community
“Really, the bottom line is what [dispensaries] are doing for the community,” Henderson said.
For more information about Palm Springs Safe Access, go to PSAccess.org.