'Farmacy Berkeley' introduces senior citizens to the benefits of cannabis

ByKumasi Aaron and Jason Beal Localish logo
Tuesday, February 20, 2024
'Farmacy Berkeley' introduces senior citizens to cannabis benefits
Sue Taylor of Farmacy Berkeley Dispensary is the first, and only, Black dispensary owner in the city of Berkeley.

BERKELEY, Calif. -- "What's wrong with just feeling good?" Asks Sue Taylor, "I naturally feel good."

And if you ask Taylor how she's feeling, she'll likely say...

"Oh, I'm incredibly well."

And her mission is to make sure as many people around her age can say the same thing.

"This is what 76 looks like, woohoo!" says Taylor.

She's doing that here, at Farmacy Berkeley, the cannabis dispensary she co-founded, celebrating 4 years in business.

"This has really been a dream come true," says Taylor, "servicing the community, servicing seniors.

A former Catholic school principal in Oakland, Sue never imagined she'd be serving seniors like this...until a lifelong friend passed away from cancer.

"I feel some kind of way in my heart that I didn't serve as a well because my mindset wasn't on cannabis," says Taylor. "Because I was secretly afraid of it because of the reefer madness that was instilled in me as I was growing up."

When Sue saw the impact cannabis made in the lives of seniors, she pivoted. She began working with seniors and her family, investing their own money, including her entire retirement, to open a dispensary.

"It took us eight years before we could get that permit," she says. "No, no, it was eight years of activist work, like trying to get a building, trying to get in, trying to fit in being African Americans and get the door slammed in my face, in our face, and not wanting to rent buildings to us, and all that we went through, all those kinds of challenges."

According to the ACLU, Black people are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana, despite roughly equal usage rates. Leafly's Jobs Report in 2021 found Black people accounted for only 1.2% to 1.7% of business owners in the cannabis industry, despite representing approximately 13% of the population.

"We had to make sure I's were dotted and our T's were crossed because we didn't want to get incarcerated," says Taylor.

She says it took 12 years and three outside investors to get to this, opening Farmacy Berkeley, making her the first and only Black woman to own a dispensary in the city of Berkeley.

"It was quite an honor," Taylor says. "To be that representative because so many African Americans, people of color, were incarcerated for cannabis...so to have an African American family open up a dispensary...gave us a lot of pride."

Sue not only has the dispensary, but also her own line of products for seniors using her nickname, Mama Sue.

"The Mama Sue relief," she says. "High CBD."

She says a Mama Sue Wellness Center for seniors is next.

"You keep recreating yourself," Taylor says. "If you want to live a boring life, keep doing the same thing all your life. Bor-ring."

She added, "I was a Catholic school principal, but now more passionate about what I'm doing now. And the sky's the limit, and my 80's is going to be even awesome."

For more information, visit here.