Area’s 1st recreational marijuana store to open

By Paul Archipley | Aug 15, 2014
Photo by: Paul Archipley Lauren Downes shows off the sign/logo for Herbal Nation, a recreational marijuana store that’s scheduled to open Monday at 19302 Bothell-Everett Highway, just south of Mill Creek’s city limit.

Although Washington’s march toward legal recreational marijuana seems to have slowed to a crawl, a local store on Mill Creek’s southern border is getting ready to open its doors.

Herbal Nation, 19302 Bothell-Everett Highway, will be the first recreational marijuana store to open up south of Arlington and north of Seattle. It’s grand opening is slated at noon Monday, Aug. 18.

The store held a “soft opening” on Aug. 11, but won’t reopen with regular hours until the 18th.

Located in unincorporated Snohomish County, the store likely will serve Mill Creek area residents following the City Council’s decision to reject a state-licensed store within the city limits.

Herbal Nation spokeswoman Lauren Downes said they opted to wait several weeks after other stores opened because supply has been so sparse. Other stores have been open only intermittently because of their inability to obtain a reliable, regular supply from growers.

Downes said at Herbal Nation they wanted to make sure they would have a steady supply and could remain open regular hours to meet what appears to be pent-up demand.

“People don’t want to go where supply is spotty,” she said.

Large crops are expected to harvest around September-October, which also should help offset some of the gouging that has driven pot prices into the stratosphere. Grams, for example, are going for about $30 – triple the black market price.

“If this was done for the people, it was done for the rich people,” Downes said.

“It’s the Wild West, in a sense.”

People from all over that Wild West, including Canada, have been calling Herbal Nation in anticipation of its opening. Many of them were invited to the “soft opening” last Saturday.

Because of limited supply, state taxes, and regulatory hurdles, prices may stay high into the foreseeable future.

However, competition with medical marijuana stores and the black market could temper those prices.

In the beginning, Herbal Nation will set prices almost at cost in an effort to build a loyal clientele; but of course, that can’t last.

Moneyed backers are just beginning to take an interest in recreational marijuana’s investment potential, so that might help stores like Herbal Nation weather the rough seas at the launch of the fledgling industry.

“I’m not in a cloud that this could be a fortune,” one backer said, “because it could very quickly become misfortune.”

The state has been careful, some might say unreasonably so, in its decisions to limit the number of suppliers and the quantity they can grow.

But at Herbal Nation, they believe they will have lined up adequate supply to meet demand and stay open regular hours, now scheduled from 8 a.m. to midnight daily.

They’ll offer grams, pre-rolled joints and oil, but aren’t promising they’ll have edibles until a couple of weeks later.

The store also will sell pipes and other paraphernalia.

Located on the west side of Bothell-Everett Highway, they want the store to be inviting and comfortable. Unlike some stores that are buried in the back of industrial parks or other obscure locations, Herbal Nation is on a busy, major thoroughfare.

So far, the clientele at other stores has ranged from Boomers who smoked pot in their youth and are eager to try again now that it’s legal, as well as long-time users who never quit but are willing to pay more for legal pot that is tested and insecticide-free, and younger people who have demonstrated a more libertarian bent toward personal freedom.

The 21 and older age limit will be strictly enforced.

Herbal Nation is embarking on a media blitz, including attendance at Seattle Hempfest, slated this weekend (Aug. 15-17) at three waterfront parks, a write-up in the industry magazine “High Times,” and participation in the U.S. Cannabis Cup, a trade show/expo scheduled this year at Everett’s Comcast Arena on Sept. 6-7.

That event also will include a Saturday night concert featuring the Wailers performing Bob Marley’s “Legend” album in its entirety.

Meanwhile, Herbal Nation is steadily preparing for an expected rush of business beginning Monday.

Downes said they have received only well wishes so far – no opposition – and a feeling of excitement that pot is finally winning a majority’s approval across the country for legalization.

In fact, the people at Herbal Nation hope eventually they’ll be able to expand nationally – thus the name.

“We want to go national, if everything works out,” Downes said, “so naming it ‘Joey’s Joints’ probably wouldn’t have been the best choice.”

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