Flight Dispensary Crew 1, from left to right: Keena Middleton, Eric Grayson, Charles Toney. Photo Credit: Audie Vergara.
California is home to the world’s largest consumer market for legal cannabis. As it grows, more dispensaries are popping up, according to data compiled by security company, Kisi.
As of February 2021, Kisi states, sales for legal marajuana in the U.S. hit around $20 million. This number is expected to reach $30 million by 2025 as several new dispensaries open up.
One of the most recent companies to open since the pandemic is Flight.
Flight is a family-owned dispensary located at Park Merced in San Francisco. The company is owned by Eric Grayson and his cousins, Charles Toney and Keena Middleton.
The dispensary’s name is a tribute to Grayson’s mother, Clara Grayson, who passed away after battling cancer. Prior to her death, the family combined their savings to fly her to Europe for her dream trip.
Clara worked for the Pfizer Pharmaceutical Company, and was passionate about wellness and learning about different forms of medicine, including cannabis.
In her honor, and in celebration of her commitment to wellness, Grayson, Toney and Middleton opened their recreational dispensary, Flight, on July 17th, 2021.
Their dispensary is now the only one located in Park Merced.
Why a Dispensary?
The cousins are in a partnership with the Shryne Group, a vertically-integrated cannabis company. Additionally, Toney is the Equity Partner under San Francisco’s Social Equity program. The program itself is designed to lower barriers of entrance into the cannabis industry for the people who were struck hardest by the War on Drugs.
All three men have had experience with cannabis. Grayson in particular got into the industry 22 years ago, he told Emerald.
When attempting to get into the dispensary business, Grayson said that he was discouraged, particularly by the price of licensing.
Raising funds was challenging, they explained. “We’ve been turned down probably three hundred times,” while trying to raise money, said Grayson.
Additionally, they explain, finding a location was difficult. “You’ve got to really want it,” added Grayson. “I went to like over 120-something locations or whatever it takes to get the building. […] They didn’t want to [work with] a Black company.”
Overall, he said, “[…] it took years of just a lot of no.”
However, as the cousins kept pursuing their entrepreneurial goals, a client gave Grayson an important piece of advice to “never stop trying to raise money.” This helped push the crew towards their end goal.
Building an Immersive Experience
The dispensary itself has an ambiance that is reminiscent of an airport — it’s bright and clean. With a cloudscape above, visitors may feel like they’ve got their head in the clouds. “We have a 47 foot mural, a 10 foot airplane mural and all of our vendors will be dressed in a captain’s uniform, introduced to [the story behind] Eric’s mother, and also his niece, who is the number one Black pilot in the world,” said Grayson.
The crew also explained the dispensary as a one-stop shop that’s welcoming for first timers or experienced consumers. The shop not only offers top-quality products, but is focused on educating customers as well.
Flight’s products include flower, vape pens, edibles, and concentrates. Additionally, all products are under $100.
Some of the flower strains that Flight supplies are Black Truffle, Blue Burst, Mochilato, and Orange Cream. Additionally, they sell their edibles in forms encompassing candies, cookies, oils, and syrups.
Hot off their grand opening, the Flight crew is currently establishing connections with various programs for people in need.
Grayson explained, “we have a lot of programs that we’re building up right now. One of them is to provide shoes for kids less fortunate that are in our neighborhood where the dispensary is located.”
Additionally, he added, “we plan on going into the hospitals to let kids get makeovers or just do their nails and stuff like that.”
Furthermore, Toney is in the process of building a brand called Positive Vibes. The main idea of the brand is to promote mental and physical health. Toney aims to do this through cannabis products with the inclusion of some fruits and vegetables that have healing properties similar to cannabinoids, like battling inflammation.
Grayson, Toney, and Middleton endured a lot of obstacles before reaching the grand opening of their dispensary. But, they know cannabis transforms lives. For that reason, the company encourages others to push through even if it takes years to achieve a goal.