Boone dispensary rebrands, expands for state medical marijuana bill

Michael+Taylor%2C+the+owner+of+Holistic+Health+Solutions%2C+setting+up+products+for+display%2C+Feb.+5%2C+2022.

Maria Smith

Michael Taylor, the owner of Holistic Health Solutions, setting up products for display, Feb. 5, 2022.

Will Hofmann, Reporter

Holistic Health Solutions, a local business that brands itself as “Boone’s first dispensary,” is expanding and rebranding for the passage of the North Carolina Compassionate Care Act — an act which would legalize medical marijuana.

Holistic Health Solutions is a local CBD dispensary that opened in 2018 after Congress passed the Farm Bill, which legalized hemp and the production of products like CBD. Now, owner and App State alumnus Michael Taylor said his focus is on rebranding the space so “it is more approachable, informed and educated in holistic health.”

“Our customers come in for three main things: sleep, pain, and anxiety,” Taylor said. “We offer alternative health options given to you by someone who wants to learn about you and your needs — we aren’t a smoke shop.” 

Taylor believes the expansion and rebranding is key to preparing for the North Carolina General Assembly passing North Carolina Senate Bill 711, the North Carolina Compassionate Care Act. He said he thinks the bill could be passed within the coming year. 

The North Carolina Compassionate Care Act, sponsored by both democrats and republicans, aims to legalize cannabis for those suffering with severe medical conditions, such as cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease. According to the current version of the bill, its passing would allow doctors to prescribe 30 days worth of cannabis to medically qualified individuals.

“With the cannabis industry shifting over the past few years and continuing to grow well into the future, we have to acknowledge that our target audience is growing,” Taylor said. “People are becoming more aware of the benefits of plant medicine.” 

Taylor, originally from Asheville, graduated from the university in 2013 with a degree in management. After working in the restaurant industry for nine years, Taylor opened Holistic Health Solutions in 2018 and expanded in May 2020 after the neighboring company, Juice Boone, moved locations.

Taylor said the expansion took them from 800 square feet to just over 2000 square feet and three more display cases. Since the expansion, Taylor has already installed a waiting room where patients can wait to make their purchase, along with hiring a brander to both help the business acclimate to the regulations outlined in the law and more clearly express their goals of education and medication.

Taylor believes the bill will likely come back under review this year, and that these measures will allow the business to be approved for a permit to sell medical cannabis not long after the bill is passed.

After opening in 2018, Taylor said business was moderate but at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became busier. The business “quadrupled” in 2021, Taylor said, which coincided with the development of an online store and, more recently, availability through Boone delivery. 

Along with expanding in town, Taylor said the business has already opened a second location in Asheville and they’ve been working to expand the variety of products they sell. 

“Our top products are probably CBD, Delta-8 and THC-O,” Taylor said. “We work directly with farms to ensure that these are safe products.”

CBD, or cannabidiol, is “one of the naturally occurring cannabinoids found in cannabis plants,” according to the World Health Organization. Made legal after Congress passed the Farm Bill , CBD is derived from hemp, a plant in the cannabis family low in THC — the chemical product which gives marijuana its high, according to the Food and Drug Administration.  

Delta-8 and THC-O are synthetic cannabinoids produced from chemical processes which may involve the use of potentially harmful chemicals, according to the FDA. Neither are regulated by the FDA. 

Julie Lindsey, a Banner Elk resident, said she shops at Holistic Health because of the dedicated staff. 

“Mike’s knowledge is incredible,” Lindsey said. “He has real dedication to customers and making sure they’re using the product properly. He’s not just there to sell you something. He’s there to educate you.”

Lindsey, a live-in caretaker for a 73-year-old woman with severe arthritis, said she buys CBD from Holistic Health to help with her patients’ pain. Since then, Lindsey said Taylor counseled her purchase of Delta-8 to help with her mental health. 

“It’s a business, yes,” Lindsey said. “But it’s a business with passion and integrity without the stigmatization of what it is.” 

Isabel Fleming, a Holistic Health employee, said her eight months working at the store informed her about the customers and different types of cannabinoids. 

“I like being able to learn about all different types of cannabinoids,” said Fleming, a junior electronic media broadcasting major. “It’s cool to see cannabis being accepted as a form of medication.”

In her time at the shop, Fleming estimated roughly 70% of all customers come in for medical reasons or because a doctor recommended it.

“You might expect a lot of ‘stoner people,’” Fleming said. “But you see way more people than you would expect.” 

Taylor said education and proper understanding of the products is key when purchasing CBD, Delta-8 or THC-O, and warned against “white labeled products,” which may confuse customers. White labeled products, Taylor explained, are products which companies may order from a producer, but put their own labels on— a process which Taylor says can lead to misinformation or incorrect medical labeling. 

 “We’re working directly with these companies and farms to find the best products,” Taylor said. “I’ve been fighting for this for years.”