Johnnie Rush spent 17 years as an executive with Disney, helping design major retail and entertainment experiences such as Walt Disney World Resort, Tokyo Disneyland, Shanghai Disneyland and the Disney Cruise Line.

Since April 2017, the architect has been the head of innovation for The McBride Company, a Manchester, Vt.-based design and concept firm known for its cannabis projects across the country. (The company is also well-known for the designs behind the Margaritaville Hotels & Resorts.) McBride’s dispensary projects include the Root’d store and music venue in Oakland, Calif., the Enlightened store in Chicago and a similar site, the Grass Monkey, in Portland, Maine.

In the designs, Rush and company say they try to destigmatize what was until eight years ago an illegal recreational drug nationwide (and that’s still illegal at the federal level). How? By curating an experience for the customer so compelling that it keeps them coming back, much like Rush helped do for Disney.

Or, as he put it in a December interview with Commercial Observer about cannabis and the most successful stores that sell it: “The product is basically the same. The experience is better.”

Rush said this experiential approach will be essential to helping recreational

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