It's no mystery that word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool, and when it comes to the medical marijuana industry, more and more cardholders are saying The Prime Leaf is the place to be.
Patients enter the spacious, well-lit lobby of 4120 E. Speedway where they are greeted and seated. Local art lines the walls, a television plays, and magazines can be read.
It's a soothing atmosphere such as that of a doctor or dental office.
"We want everyone that comes in here to feel comfortable," said General Manager Jose Avila. "We are a nice, inviting place, and there is no need to feel ashamed when walking in. We are all professionals and we are here to help."
A patient consultant leads the customer into the product room, where an attractive array of jarred strains await including several indicas, good for chronic pain, anxiety, and sleep disorders, which are some of the most common qualifying conditions for patients.
Typically, there are about 15-18 strains available to choose from, all of which come from state-licensed growers, which Avila said is a perk.
"Because we don't have our own grow, we are not dictated by it," said Avila. "We are able to go state-wide to find the right medicine for the right patients—not simply what is most cost effective for us."
Those preferring edible options will find them on display as well. Chocolate bars, fruit bars, cookies, and vegan options are just a few of the more than 30 edibles inventoried.
For new customers, patient consultants are well-trained in helping determine the best strain to treat ailments that can range from cancer to Crohn's disease to epilepsy.
Existing customers will have already had their past experiences documented to create seamless follow-up visits.
"We note what hasn't worked, what has worked, and what has worked well," said Avila. "We want to make sure they are better off when they leave than when they came in."
To accomplish that feat, patient consultants receive continuous on-the-job training and educating. New consultants shadow for a month before they begin treating patients.
The staff of The Prime Leaf is small—as is the small-town feeling the shop presents.
"We went the corporate route for a while, but our customers dictated that they liked the smaller feeling," said Avila. "Tucson is a tight-knit community, and people like the fact that the shop feels like Tucson."
Beyond the product room is a state-licensed kitchen, where The Prime Leaf will soon create its own edibles.
A back office monitor shows the dozens of security cameras monitoring the shop. An external company is constantly surveilling the facility.
"People should feel safe coming into our shop," said Avila. "We know that the marijuana industry before it became legal was one where a drug dealer might take advantage of someone buying marijuana. We are aiming to change the perspective on marijuana, and that is valuable."
Avila, who spent years in the banking industry before taking over the management position at The Prime Leaf, said while the industry is still finding its feet, the rewards have been far more immediate.
"It's seeing people actually get better and improve," he said. "We have a lot of terminally ill people come in. One man had six months to live and he was on such strong medication he couldn't eat, so he had no energy to play with his grandchildren. We start helping him out, and the next thing you know, he comes in, he's walking up the steps, and he's happy. That's the reward."
Prime Leaf offers a number of discounts to its patrons, including 15 percent off for disabled or military veterans, and 10 percent off for students with a valid student ID.
The Prime Leaf is open from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. seven days per week.