Leslie Scaramella Mays is one of three owners sharing a suite of which the latest of three cannabis dispensaries is also part. Mays’ business is in holistic body scans and treatments, as well as essential and therapeutic oils. Photo by Marshall Smith

There are now three businesses in Idyllwild that in some form dispense medical marijuana or cannabis products. According to proprietors, they have different operational models and different objectives.

The latest, Higher Gardenz, according to spokesperson Mike Boris, is a non-profit 501(c)(3) cooperative run by a team of volunteers. Higher Gardenz shares a suite fronting Highway 243 near Village Market with two non-cannabis-based businesses.

Boris is a medical-marijuana educator who discusses the curative aspects of CBD topicals on FM stations in San Diego, Phoenix/Tempe and Las Vegas. He also writes for San Diego’s Candid Chronicle to explain, in a confusion-prone market, how medical-marijuana topical salves and other products can be healthy treatment options for many chronic, pain-based conditions. Boris is a spokesperson for the cooperative, but not the senior manager.

Topicals are cannabis-infused lotions, balms and oils that are absorbed through the skin for localized relief of pain, soreness and inflammation. Because they’re non-psychoactive, topicals are often chosen by patients, including the elderly, who want the therapeutic benefits of marijuana without the euphoria or disorientation of other delivery methods. According to cannabis educators, even if a topical contains active THC, it still won’t induce the “high” one would get from smoking or ingesting cannabis.

Proponents claim cannabis salves can reduce muscle tension, unlock muscle spasms, and soothe aches and pains from stress and overwork. Those who, like proprietors of Higher Gardenz, say they are in business to serve medical needs, view themselves as healing centers.

Boris invites the Idyllwild public to visit Higher Gardenz to inquire about the benefits of medical cannabis. “Questions should never be met by confrontation, only by education,” said Boris.

He said he is aware that attitudes regarding cannabis are shifting after statewide passage of Proposition 64. “It’s a gray area,” he said, when informed of the current illegality of cannabis cooperatives under Riverside County’s land-use regulations. He and others note the public pushback and campaigns against the evil of alcohol once prohibition was repealed. Many, including some medical practitioners, view potential for damage to the integrity of the body system to be greater with alcohol than with cannabis. Marijuana has been shown to relieve pain and ameliorate certain medical conditions, something which alcohol has not yet demonstrated.

County supervisors plan to put a measure on the November 2018 ballot to tax the sale of marijuana and cannabis products. The tax would fund regulatory efforts for cannabis in the unincorporated areas. If the tax passes, regulation could begin once measures and staff are in place to do so.

In the meantime, and this the board of supervisors stresses, until new regulatory ordinances are in place, any marijuana business, for medical or adult recreational use, is still prohibited in the county’s unincorporated areas.

The board stated, “… no permit of any type shall be issued for cannabis businesses or cannabis activities until the county adopts a comprehensive regulatory framework for medical and adult-use cannabis.”

Within the space occupied by Higher Gardenz, two other businesses operate, sharing a pleasant and well-furnished reception room. One, Gardens of Wellness, is owned and operated by Leslie Scaramella Mays. Mays says she markets holistic healing products, such as essential and therapeutic oils, and a variety of diagnostic treatments. She said her line of Doterra oils are naturally powerful antioxidants that are 70 times more potent than and as pure as dried herbs. Mays also conducts foot detoxes, and skin scans and analyses through electrical stimuli.

The third business operating from the central suite is Bear Claw tattoo studio and Sea Miracle Super Food supplies. Owner Jamie Lachappa was not available for interview.

Boris said Higher Gardenz is Prop 215 compliant (the 1996 medical marijuana initiative) and both Boris and Mays stated they were operating their respective businesses with the intention of complying with all applicable laws. Neither was aware of the county’s current prohibition of cannabis-based businesses in the unincorporated areas.

Whether sharing a single location with a central reception suite can negatively affect the non-cannabis-based businesses remains to be seen, since neither Code Enforcement nor the Sheriff’s Department has visited or yet cited Higher Gardenz.


  1. I am amused by the pot logic reasoning, to compare one bad thing to another worse thing, to justify that since the worse situation occurs, then the lesser evil should be acceptable and welcome.

    Referencing this line: “Many, including some medical practitioners, view potential for damage to the integrity of the body system to be greater with alcohol than with cannabis.”

    Try this comparable absurd analogy:
    Rape by a single rapist is bad, but more violent gang-rape is worse. With that pot logic, the lesser offending option should be acceptable and welcome. Of course that argument is flawed for both awful scenarios, because it magically excludes the third option which is NOT COMMITTING THE OFFENSE at all, instead of framing the comparison between only BAD versus WORSE.