West Hollywood, the home of great brunch, greater comedy, and even greater cannabis. We decided to stop by Zen Healing on the world famous Santa Monica strip in the heart of WeHo to get a sense of how their operations stacked up compared to the quality the area is known for. Just driving by Zen Healing, I can say without a doubt that it has easily one of the highest visibility storefronts in West Hollywood, if not the whole of Los Angeles, period. It is very cleanly decorated with a vibrant mishmash of fronts encased in green light strips giving it a solid branding and a sense the place is fun, without losing the professionalism of the look, and there is no question that they sell cannabis. In this high traffic park of West Hollywood, you want to do all that you can to stand out and Zen absolutely accomplished that flawlessly. With the fonts, I was almost drawn back to Native Roots in Denver and their approach to their style of branding. I walked up to the storefront and was greeted by a highly branded bulletproof glass with a giant arrow pointing towards where I was to speak and an area showing me where to put my paperwork. It said this storefront was for medical only, and that recreational should go around. To me logistically this didn’t make sense as the space was there to modify and have a two section intake at the storefront side, but that wasn’t done it seemed. In any case, my ID was checked and I was immediately let into the budroom to fill out the rest of the paperwork. This is done, because of the fact their entryway into the lobby is very small in size and only able to comfortably accommodate 7 or so people before overflow would need to go into the sidewalk. I really enjoyed the sun shading mesh with the design instructing people what to do. It was extremely innovative, and hadn’t seen it done that way before with the guide right into the design. So far I was really liking this shop for the most part. Aside from the separate entrance for recreational, Zen Healing was really making strides on being a quality operation. It was right after this that things began to fall apart in a way i’ve never seen happen in the legal industry.
Product displayed in the bud counter at Zen Healing
As I proceeded to fill out paperwork, I stopped to admire the decor inside. The inside aesthetic was just as nice as the outside with lights and a cool vibe to the room. It had vending machines on both the back wall and the side wall near the exit sign and area where you pick up and pay for your purchase. This was a good concept as it would keep people flowing without forcing too much product to be stuck behind a counter. I handed in my paperwork and was quickly verified and finally allowed to check out the product in the display counters. This was the beginning of the disappointments as the budcounter was full of low-quality displays. The fact that these aren’t even what you receive or used for distribution, made it even worse as there was room for design here that just wasn’t done. The image you give is everything in modern retail, and when you don’t put any effort into how your product is perceived, it not only makes you look bad it makes the entire legalized industry as a whole look bad. I was shocked at this considering the level of detail they put into the overall design, even branding their vending machines in a cool way. Little did I know, just as I finished asking a question about a strain, that within 2 minutes all operational hell was about to break loose.
Some of the cool branded vending machines at Zen Healing
From the back I heard the exit door open, which until this point I had assumed was either an employee exit or emergency exit. But a man and a woman came in talking very loudly and immediately started looking at the vending machines. I had then figured “Okay I get it, this was the recreational side and they are checked in at a different counter elsewhere.” but couldn’t understand why it said exit if that was the recreational entrance. They walked to each vending machine, and then walked up to the bud counter cutting in front of me to ask a question. Seeing how the staff would handle this I stepped back and allowed her to continue. The budtender, who was clearly confused, kind of ignored her to continue focusing on the strain he was grabbing for me. Never breaking eye contact with what he was doing while saying that they didn’t have the particular strain they were looking for in stock. The woman asked this, despite the giant menu on LCD screens right above the bud counter. She then walked back to the vending machines and this was when the guy who checked me in finally informed them that they needed to check in. The lady then said she didn’t have her ID, and had been coming here for years and wanted to be able to shop. I don’t know if this was a sting operation by police or what but it was insane how things were unfolding. He then said if she didn’t have ID that she would have to leave (how she got inside in the first place is literally beyond me and how security or management wasn’t all over this is also beyond me) and the irate lady and her male companion said they have been coming here for years and this is outrageous. He then asked for their names, apparently willing to let them stay if they were on file. He goes back to the computer to search the person’s name and the two customers simply go back to browsing! No asking them to come with him to the check-in counter, no security finally arriving late to ask them to wait outside the bud room area, no management storming downstairs demanding to know why they are inside without ID, nothing. The employee checking in people then informs them that they are not in the system and that they would have to leave. Irate, the two individuals said something rude and walked out the same door they came in. I was absolutely dumbfounded. Dumbfounded at how these two loud customers even got inside the budroom in the first place and next to cannabis products without even having an ID. Dumbfounded it took MINUTES to ask them what they were doing. Dumbfounded that no security came down at any point. Dumbfounded that management never came down, especially after I and his staff were both treated rudely by the two individuals. Dumbfounded on a number of levels, and it doesn’t get any better from there. I finally settle on Tangie, just wanting to leave as quickly as possible and was informed I would need to go to counter to the left of me to pay for and pick up my purchase. I walk over and an employee at that counter was already bagging up my order. She apologized for the incident that happened earlier and asked my name and took my payment. She then promptly handed me a stapled paper bag and told me to have a nice day. I stared at it for a second because legal compliance under AB-110 requires childproof packaging, and clearly a brown paper bag with a staple doesn’t qualify. If this was Jan 2nd and people were still getting used to it and there was a mess up I could kind of understand, not this close to the end of Feb. When I got to the door there was a rope instead of a door knob or handle. I assume this was to assist people with disabilities, but if this is for service dogs to open or wheel chair bound people to use, the fact that there wasn’t a normal option was a bit weird. I left and finally got back to my house to check on my purchase. I opened the brown paper bag, and found a pop top medicine jar which also isn’t compliant. Again, while I understand California is allowing people to clear out old stock, you are still required to repackage your cannabis into a child proof container or at minimal make efforts to make the jar harder to open. Nothing was done here and the fact it wasn’t in a child proof bag was just the nail in the coffin for me. I have never given a rating this low, but cannot fathom how worse a shop can miss the mark by not having legally compliant (unless there is an exemption in West Hollywood in which I would like the store to point to where in the law they can use brown paper bags legally) packaging and allowing people without ID’s to waltz up to the bud counter and browse items in the vending machines without security or an employee stopping them. Such awesome potential with such poor execution. We’ll check back with Zen Healing in a couple months to see if they improve but for now they earn our lowest score to date.
– TOP MARKS –
High Visibility Storefront
– BOTTOM MARKS –
Product Put In Stapled Brown Paper Bag (Not legally compliant in the state of California. Childproof bags are now required under AB-110)
Medicine Put In Pop-Top Plastic Container (Not legally compliant in the state of California. Childproof containers are now required under AB-110)
Display Jars Were Subpar Quality
Labels On Medicine Not Legally Compliant (Bottle I received only had clipart of the word tangie written on it)
Customer Able To Reach Bud Counter Without Being Checked In / ID’ed (Was able to browse for 4 minutes and attempted to attempt to use vending machine before questioned)
Security Non-Existent / Way Too Lenient If They Are On Site
Manager/Security Never Came Down To Address Issue When Non ID Customer Got Irate
No Door Handle For Exit. Weird Pull Cord.
Marijuana Retail Report Rating – 3.0
Marijuana Retail Report conducts its reviews independent of the shops / lounges knowledge. Marijuana Retail Report is neither paid or otherwise incentivized by the shop / lounge to review them. They are not informed of the review either prior to, during, or after and cannot have the review edited for any reason other than provable inaccuracy or update due to time. The reviews are unbiased by design and contain a proprietary 31 point inspection of the store during the review. The cannabis is purchased by the reviewer and is not paid for by the shop nor is the reviewer reimbursed by the shop for the review. The products selected for purchase are purchased at random based on variable criteria and are meant to spot check the dispensary.