Meet Oregon’s would-be marijuana retailing guru – Portland Business Journal


Just seven months or so before marijuana dispensaries open in Oregon, those looking to retail the substance have plenty of questions.

Megan Stone believes she has some measured responses. Stone is the owner of The High Road Design Studio, which hopes to revolutionize marijuana retail on a national level.

Stone will be a featured speaker at the Dispensary Next Expo, which takes place June 15 and June 16 at the Jantzen Beach Red Lion Hotel in Portland.

A bakery case at a Megan… more


A look at a Megan… more



We caught up with Stone for an email interview to ask about what she does, how she does it and what prospects she envisions for those joining Oregon’s marijuana industry.

Talk a little bit about what you do. Is it pretty much the same as out-and-out merchandising? And how did you get started in the retail design business?

I am a patient, turned budtender, turned dispensary manager, turned cannabis retail designer. I started The High Road Design Studio in 2013 upon finishing my interior design degree and realizing – after six years of experiencing the cannabis industry from an insider’s perspective – that the retail stores in our industry have enormous potential to be incredibly cool spaces that provide an exciting product, a unique service, a brand new social experience, and a nice living for their owners and the people who work in the industry.

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The regulations and laws regarding marijuana and how it can be sold are complex and inconsistent across the country, and the product itself is pretty unique. For some, it is saving their lives, for others it is merely a pleasure, so designing the space to be inclusive of both kinds of customers is key.

These are probably the most common differences between these stores’ needs and those of non-cannabis retailers. It’s a unique blend of security, efficiency, restrictions, wellness, education, freedom, experimentation, medicine, retail and consultation. That, and I don’t know of many other businesses who have to conduct their business in all-cash. That presents a few areas where design is very critical for safety and security.

What’s the one thing cannabis retailers need to do before they can sell from storefronts in Oregon?

As in any state where cannabis can be sold through retail outlets, the owners must first obtain a state license to sell the product. This process is the start of the cannabis retailer’s journey.

It seems like there’s an increasing de-stigmatization of marijuana among mainstream business types.

You are definitely right. 2015 is the year for cannabis in our country. Cannabis is the fastest growing industry in our country, according to Forbes Magazine. I can’t even keep facts and figures straight anymore when it comes to the number of states actively working to pass cannabis reforms, or who is likely to legalize it fully in our next elections in 2016.

Twenty-three states, including Washington, D.C., have legalized medical marijuana, plus Colorado, Washington State, Oregon, and Washington DC who have also legalized it fully for adult use. Over 30,000 people are employed by the cannabis industry that we know of. Some 85 percent of Americans now support legalizing it for medical purposes, and over 50% support legalizing it for adult use. Another 57 percent of Americans live in states with marijuana reform laws on the books already.

Last year, the medical cannabis industry served over 1.2 million patients.

I believe this rapid evolution is being driven by the fact that many people are beginning to see past the lies and propaganda that the government has provided over the past 70 years of prohibition and are realizing that cannabis is truly a safe, natural medicine that is capable of providing treatments and therapies for many conditions.

It is also a safer substance than alcohol, tobacco and many pharmaceuticals, and the hypocrisy of why it is illegal while these other substances are legal and regulated is beginning to become more clear and acknowledged.

When 2.5 million people die a year from alcohol related deaths, 443,000 people die every year from tobacco, 16,000 lose their lives annually to prescription drug overdoses, and no one ever in the history of marijuana has died from overdosing on marijuana, it is easy to understand why so many people are changing their minds and attitudes about marijuana.

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Meet Oregon’s would-be marijuana retailing guru – Portland Business Journal


Just seven months or so before marijuana dispensaries open in Oregon, those looking to retail the substance have plenty of questions.

Megan Stone believes she has some measured responses. Stone is the owner of The High Road Design Studio, which hopes to revolutionize marijuana retail on a national level.

Stone will be a featured speaker at the Dispensary Next Expo, which takes place June 15 and June 16 at the Jantzen Beach Red Lion Hotel in Portland.

A bakery case at a Megan… more


A look at a Megan… more



We caught up with Stone for an email interview to ask about what she does, how she does it and what prospects she envisions for those joining Oregon’s marijuana industry.

Talk a little bit about what you do. Is it pretty much the same as out-and-out merchandising? And how did you get started in the retail design business?

I am a patient, turned budtender, turned dispensary manager, turned cannabis retail designer. I started The High Road Design Studio in 2013 upon finishing my interior design degree and realizing – after six years of experiencing the cannabis industry from an insider’s perspective – that the retail stores in our industry have enormous potential to be incredibly cool spaces that provide an exciting product, a unique service, a brand new social experience, and a nice living for their owners and the people who work in the industry.

Receive Portland Business Journal’s Morning Edition and Afternoon Edition newsletters and breaking news alerts.


Upcoming Events


The regulations and laws regarding marijuana and how it can be sold are complex and inconsistent across the country, and the product itself is pretty unique. For some, it is saving their lives, for others it is merely a pleasure, so designing the space to be inclusive of both kinds of customers is key.

These are probably the most common differences between these stores’ needs and those of non-cannabis retailers. It’s a unique blend of security, efficiency, restrictions, wellness, education, freedom, experimentation, medicine, retail and consultation. That, and I don’t know of many other businesses who have to conduct their business in all-cash. That presents a few areas where design is very critical for safety and security.

What’s the one thing cannabis retailers need to do before they can sell from storefronts in Oregon?

As in any state where cannabis can be sold through retail outlets, the owners must first obtain a state license to sell the product. This process is the start of the cannabis retailer’s journey.

It seems like there’s an increasing de-stigmatization of marijuana among mainstream business types.

You are definitely right. 2015 is the year for cannabis in our country. Cannabis is the fastest growing industry in our country, according to Forbes Magazine. I can’t even keep facts and figures straight anymore when it comes to the number of states actively working to pass cannabis reforms, or who is likely to legalize it fully in our next elections in 2016.

Twenty-three states, including Washington, D.C., have legalized medical marijuana, plus Colorado, Washington State, Oregon, and Washington DC who have also legalized it fully for adult use. Over 30,000 people are employed by the cannabis industry that we know of. Some 85 percent of Americans now support legalizing it for medical purposes, and over 50% support legalizing it for adult use. Another 57 percent of Americans live in states with marijuana reform laws on the books already.

Last year, the medical cannabis industry served over 1.2 million patients.

I believe this rapid evolution is being driven by the fact that many people are beginning to see past the lies and propaganda that the government has provided over the past 70 years of prohibition and are realizing that cannabis is truly a safe, natural medicine that is capable of providing treatments and therapies for many conditions.

It is also a safer substance than alcohol, tobacco and many pharmaceuticals, and the hypocrisy of why it is illegal while these other substances are legal and regulated is beginning to become more clear and acknowledged.

When 2.5 million people die a year from alcohol related deaths, 443,000 people die every year from tobacco, 16,000 lose their lives annually to prescription drug overdoses, and no one ever in the history of marijuana has died from overdosing on marijuana, it is easy to understand why so many people are changing their minds and attitudes about marijuana.

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