WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — With a waft of marijuana swirling around him and an adoring crowd of fans, Woody Harrelson cut the ribbon on his new cannabis dispensary in West Hollywood Friday. Part retail, part lounge and 100% dedicated to selling the best marijuana grown under the California sun, The Woods opened for business Friday.
“Hopefully we’ve added more beauty and more good times here,” Harrelson told an eclectic group that had packed onto the sidewalk on Santa Monica Blvd. moments before The Woods opened its doors. “Hopefully we can help make the West Hollywood citizens a little bit higher.”
With 8,000 square feet of space, The Woods is a collection of areas, each with its own unique vibe. There’s a stylish and carefully curated indoor retail space that sells everything from joints to edibles to bongs, all of which can be delivered for free.
There’s also a bar and food service and street-side seating.
But for all of its cannabis cool, it’s the backyard space that really wows. Behind the building is a sprawling and gloriously overgrown garden with mature foliage that needs to be brushed out of the way while stepping along various paths past Balinese sculptures, a tree house, a koi pond and a studio inhabited by a pair of macaws. Patrons are welcome to enjoy all of it.
“This is the most beautiful dispensary I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot,” Harrelson told Spectrum News 1. The actor and longtime cannabis activist flew into LA just this morning to see the completed space for the very first time and welcome its first round of customers.
Harrelson used to live next to Devon Wheeler, who co-founded the dispensary chain, Erba Markets. “He was always trying to get me to be a part of it,” Harrelson said. “I don’t know why I was resistant, but I stopped resisting.”
Wheeler is now one of Harrelson’s many partners in the Woods, along with Erba co-founder Jay Handal, political commentator Bill Maher, interior designer Thomas Schoos and Schoos Design Chief Executive Michael Berman.
Walk through The Woods, and there are shelves topped with canisters of bud varieties and tasteful displays of edibles, while under a glass counter there are vape pens and cartridges and concentrated THC live resin. Throughout the space, there are signs to support your local weed farmer.
“I have a real belief in outdoor organics. Sativa is my favorite herb,” Harrelson said. “But what has become popular is basically indoor, what I call chem weed. And we carry that too, not wanting to slice off a chunk of our revenue right away. But my ambition is to be the Trojan Horse that helps kind of shift the way things are and make outdoor, sun-kissed what people want.”
Outdoor, naturally grown, he said, is a better and cleaner high. “Chem weed just blows the top of my head off. I don’t see any reason for that.”
In 1996, when Harrelson was arrested for planting hemp seeds in Kentucky as an act of civil disobedience, he never thought he would see this day.
“There’s no way,” he said. “It’s like war. If it weren’t lucrative, there wouldn’t be so much of it. And it’s no exception to say that the war on non-corporate drugs is extremely lucrative. So I did not think it would ever be allowed. Of course, the government still gets their cut and maybe actually they get more than they ever did now.”
The Woods is the latest entrant to what is now officially known as West Hollywood’s Emerald Village — a cannabis tourist destination with at least half a dozen dispensaries and dozens of other marijuana-themed businesses on the way. For the ribbon cutting, West Hollywood mayor Lauren Meister shared the scissors.
Harrelson looked at several locations before settling on what is now The Woods. He first saw it two and a half years ago when Schoos was throwing an event at his studio in the space that is now the store. Walking through its lush outdoors, Harrelson told Schoos the space was how a marijuana dispensary should feel, and the two vowed to make it happen.
“We do something that is called an experience,” Schoos said. “You’re not coming here to just buy a product. You’re coming here to experience a lifelong story that has come to fruition through some incredible minds. It’s not like, ‘Hey, I have a celebrity friend that puts some money out.’ Woody is the heart and soul who put the movement forward for decades.”
The Woods is being billed as a flagship, but Harrelson said he has no immediate plans to open another location. “We’re not opposed to that,” he said, but for now he wants to focus on making the Woods a special destination.
“Everything is changing daily in the marijuana world with what you can do and what you cannot do,” he said.
An avid environmentalist, Harrelson would like to address the excessive plastic packaging used in commercial cannabis “certainly whenever my own brand comes out,” he said, “but some of it we really can’t help because it’s other people manufacturing and doing it and we’re carrying other people’s products. But I’m hoping that we evolve to where eventually, hopefully it’s all our own stuff, and it’s packaged with the most minimal impact on the environment.”
For now, The Woods is focused on having a light environmental footprint in other ways. The space will be cleaned with all-natural products and could eventually be powered by rooftop solar.
While the Woods is pushing boundaries about what can be, Harrelson doesn’t consider himself a disruptor. The term is too negative, he said.
Rather, he sees himself as being proactively environmentalist.
“I want to do what’s best for Mother Earth, you know? I do a lot of things that make my footprint heavier. I fly a lot, but in terms of things I can control, like the packaging, I can’t control it yet. But I can certainly try to make inroads.”