There are a number of reasons New Mexico is referred to as the Land of Enchantment. From the Carlsbad Caverns to the jaw-dropping, white sand dunes of Tularosa Basin, there are many wondrous sights to behold. The stunning landscapes, amazing natural wonders and national parks aren’t the only thing that make the southwestern state a region worth visiting, though. It’s also home to what Erik Briones refers to as a “Cannabis Mall” called Minerva.
Briones has always had a bit of a green thumb. A recipient of a horticultural degree from New Mexico State University, he previously owned a string of garden nurseries before retiring to take some time off. It was his son that encouraged him to take the leap and open a medical dispensary, despite the social stigma and unfavorable political climate in New Mexico at the time.
After a year of getting his application together at the end of 2010, he opened Minerva in 2011. Now, the four-part location —which includes a dispensary, retail product shop, hydroponic store and wellness center — is the largest dispensary in the entire state at just over 3,100 square feet of medicinal goodness.
Briones collaborated with award-winning interior design consultant Megan Stone of The High Road Design Studio to provide consumers with the total cannabis experience. Minerva’s dispensary sells flowers, hash pucks, seeds and cuttings as well as topicals including salves, massage oil and cannaspray. Their retail area, called Minerva Life, offers papers, pipes, vaporizers and all things associated with consuming cannabis. They even sell hemp clothing. In their hydroponic store, Minerva Grow, they carry soils, fertilizers, pots and all items budding and experienced growers would need to maintain their crops. And Minerva’s wellness center is a place where dispensary members can indulge in massages and other body healing therapies.
The expansive space has a lively, energetic atmosphere with attentive budtenders who offer patients one-on-one interaction to assist them in choosing the right medicine for their ailments. On average, Minerva serves more than 200 people each day.
Some of their best-selling strains include classics like Blue Dream and Strawberry Cough as well as others like Jesus OG and Kryptonite. Critical Plus is also really popular due to its high CBD content. They also sell a strain developed by Briones called Smooth Operator. It’s an uplifting, balanced hybrid that relaxes the body and energizes the mind – almost like drinking a good cup of coffee in a luxurious hot tub.
In addition to a top-notch dispensary, Briones also oversees Minerva’s bakery in Santa Fe that makes about 60 different sweet and savory cannabis-infused products from cheesecakes, brownies and scones to mango salsa, wheat thins and kale chips. They also have a 7,500-square-foot grow operation in Albuquerque, where they cultivate all their medicine indoors. They grow about 80 different strains and get consistently good yields from their crops, averaging about two pounds per plant.
Briones is planning to open another dispensary in Las Lunas in a renovated 100-year-old adobe house. It will have the same compassionate mission as the first location: to provide high-quality medicine to patients in a peaceful environment that encompasses all of their needs. The second dispensary is planned to open sometime over the summer.
Have you visited a cannabis dispensary recently? Tell us about your experiences.