Sparc’s founder, Erich Pearson, has legally grown cannabis in Sonoma and San Francisco Counties for the past 12 years, selling it to medical dispensaries and supplying it for free to critically ill patients in hospices. (Marijuana has been shown to alleviate nausea, neuropathy, pain and insomnia, and to stimulate appetite.) Two years ago, wanting more direct contact with patients, he decided to open his own dispensary, and in the process created a new model for marijuana distribution.
Pearson enlisted Sand Studios, a local architecture firm, to design a space that would help ‘‘remove the stigma around cannabis and make people feel marijuana is normal.’’ After all, as he acknowledged, ‘‘if we’re asking the government and citizens to allow medical cannabis, we have to show them a model they can feel comfortable with.’’
The designer Larissa Sand toured a handful of Bay Area dispensaries to gain a better understanding of the business. (‘‘Nothing against marijuana, but fine wine is my drug of choice,’’ Sand said.) While she was impressed with the sense of community and professionalism among growers and retailers, she found most dispensaries lacking when it came to aesthetics. ‘‘There was nothing current,’’ she said. ‘‘I wanted to create something beautiful, to elevate the product and give it the proper milieu.’’