Twenty months after Washingtonians voted yes on recreational marijuana, the first pot shops have been cleared to open for business. July 8th was the official first day, but the 9th was the opening of the first pot store in SW Washington’s Clark County, just a hop, skip and a joint from the Oregon border.
Main St. Marijuana in Vancouver is just one mile from Portland, Oregon. Proprietor Ramsey Hamide anticipates that, “A huge influx of our business is going to be Oregonians or from the Portland metropolitan area.”
First in the long line of people waiting to buy legal weed was Mark Edwards, 42, from Salem, Oregon. He arrived at 3:30am. “I got here early and now I get to be first of the historic day, so I’m enjoying that.” he told HIGH TIMES. “It’s the whole idea that it’s legal for the first time. I don’t have to worry about getting arrested over it, I just go buy it. I’m going to take it to a family member’s house tonight and just enjoy it for once, truly and fully.”
Edwards predicted he wouldn’t be coming to the Vancouver shop for long, “[Oregon] is going to be on the November ballot, I’m confident of that and I’m confident that when it does go through this year it’s going to be legal in just a matter of time now.”
Another reason Oregonians, and Washingtonians for that matter, may not be making the short trek to the new shops are the prices. The Sour Kush that I legally purchased cost $30 a gram. The highest price I’ve ever paid for marijuana. Three times black market and dispensary prices. For now, there are only two strains to choose from, the sour and J’s Famous Kush, a proprietary blend by Farmer J’s. There were also pre-rolled joints. Farmer J’s was the only licensed supplier who was ready and there are no licensed commercial kitchens ready yet for edibles.
Hamide tried to explain the cost break down, while assuring us that prices will go down as supply increases. “Averaging the price of a gram to $25, in a four gram bag for $100, we’ve broken it down and $48 of that is going to the processors, $37 is going to the state for city and state taxes, then only about $3.70 is going to the retailers.”
It’s tough to swallow, but regardless, Main St. Marijuana had a line that wrapped around the building by the time they opened their doors at 11:00am. Hundreds flocked to the opening. The ribbon was cut by Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt. “It shows that they are supporting what we’re doing here today,” said Hamide, adding, “We’ve been in constant contact with the city as far as planning, licensing, and making sure we’re addressing any concerns the community may have.”
Mayor Leavitt had nothing but positive things to say about his city’s new marijuana hot spots. Though the issue of marijuana never came up during Leavitt’s former campaigns, he assured HIGH TIMES that he had voted in support of the initiative. He said, “We’re happy, we welcome people to come to our city, spend their money and enjoy our downtown.”
And enjoying downtown was a big part of the day’s festivities. Main Street was buzzing with people from all walks of life, there to buy marijuana legally for the first time or to simply be a part of the historic day. Down the street from the pot shop was another neighborhood cannabusiness, Viridian Sciences, throwing their own block party in conjunction with the grand opening, featuring local vendors and sporting a Weed and Weenies theme.
“We couldn’t think of a better way to promote the state being safe and responsible than throwing a party the day of, letting people know that we’re here and we’re supporting the local community,” said Viridian Sciences President, Justin Dufour, Esq. “Pretty much everyone is supportive of the new people on the block, namely us and Main Street Marijuana.”
Viridian Sciences provides business management software to the cannabis industry. They offer business solutions to producers, processors, retailers and laboratories. They focus on social responsibility and conforming best practices when it comes to regulation and control.
“Our message is to consume responsibly,” explained Dufour, “‘It’s not a joke when you toke,’ ‘If you’re feeling dabby call a cabby,’ those are some of the slogans that we’re using so that people can know the law before they purchase. It’s like alcohol, you can get a DUI, you can’t just walk down the street smoking a joint, even though that’s what we’d all love to be able to do.”
Today’s crowd was peaceful, full of pleasant anticipation, and not toking in public. The police had a light presence. Detective Chavers of the Vancouver Police Department, strolling a side street, commented, “My assignment today is just crowd control. It’s like a grand opening for a Walmart, a liquor store or a fireworks stand, mostly just to make sure the crowd isn’t blocking traffic. Really it didn’t have a lot to do with the marijuana other than education. Folks are still unsure about the law. Now marijuana’s legal and in their mind that means anything goes, and that’s not really true. Adults over 21 can possess up to an ounce, but you still can’t have it in view of the general public, you can’t smoke it in public…”
Smiling amiably, he said, “We’re not here to rain on anybody’s parade. We’re mostly here to make sure everyone’s having a good time, nobody’s getting hurt, and that people follow the rules, but the store’s done a great job of organizing it, so it’s been really smooth.”