Tour buses parked inside the gates of Laguna Woods Village, a retirement community in south Orange County, are typically scooping up seniors for a day of Indian resort gambling.
Not on this Wednesday.
At 10:30 a.m., a big white bus was waiting to whisk 14 seniors off on a new adventure: a shopping trip at a medical marijuana dispensary.
“I don’t want a buzz,” passenger Kay Nelson insisted, shaking her silver head. “I want relief from pain.”
Nelson has been a member of the Laguna Woods Medical Cannabis Club for two years. She uses a vaporizer and oils supplied by the senior-run collective to ease her chronic backache.
“I wouldn’t be walking if it wasn’t for cannabis,” Nelson said.
Moments later, the petite 75-year-old climbed the tour bus stairs unassisted and settled into a plush green seat, a bit nervous for her first visit to a marijuana store.
Along for the short journey was a fashionable 65-year-old who’s battling leukemia and a part-time New Yorker who suffers from glaucoma. Laguna Woods Mayor Shari Horne, who’s a medical marijuana advocate and patient herself, was on the ride. And there was fireball Vincette Wilson, who puffed and passed around the pink vape pen she’d won during a game of “420 bingo.”
Wilson led the bus in a cheer as they pulled up to Bud and Bloom dispensary in Santa Ana – the only city in Orange County that allows cannabis shops.
While many consumers and entrepreneurs in California’s marijuana industry have their sights set on Jan. 2, when the state will allow sales to start for the larger recreational market, Bud and Bloom is doubling down on serving serious medical patients.
“We believe that cannabis is a very, very powerful, healing medicine,” shop co-owner Aaron Herzberg said.
Bud and Bloom has upcoming events that focus on veteran, minority and LGBTQ patients. That passion for engaging the community – and tapping into new customer bases along the way – is why the 8-month-old shop paid for the Laguna Woods bus, which it plans to charter from the community of 16,000 at least once a month.
“I don’t want a buzz. I want relief from pain.”
Wednesday’s bus was timed to…