A really interesting thing is going on right under many folks’ noses. Whatever your views on marijuana, it is undeniable that history is being made as a huge shift is gaining momentum. The notion that someday marijuana will be on par with alcohol in the marketplace is working its way into reality. Just consider Dockside Cannabis, a very attractive and professional new retail store for recreational marijuana. Located in Shoreline, a suburban area north of Seattle, the store had its grand opening on December 6, 2014, with a whole new way of doing business and bringing about a whole new way of seeing marijuana as something as familiar and relaxing as a glass of wine at the end of the day.
Dockside Cannabis is a Washington State Licensed (I-502) retail store that provides cannabis products and associated accessories to residents and visitors of Washington State who are 21 years of age or older. It is an offshoot, and separate entity, from Dockside Co-op, the well-respected medical marijuana dispensary. For those of you out of the loop, I-502 is Initiative 502 from which our present situation derives. On November 6, 2012, in a truly huge turn-out of 81 percent of registered voters, I-502 passed by 56 percent of over 3 million votes cast. To provide perspective, the total population of Washington state is 6.9 million.
Jessa Lewis, General Manager for Dockside Cannabis, helped provide a lot of good insight and background on where marijuana is heading as a consumer product. From the vantage point of Dockside Cannabis, with Ms. Lewis as our guide, let’s see what lies ahead for a business blazing quite a new trail. Getting back to I-502, Lewis is quick to point out that the votes in favor would have been even higher except that a lot of people were having problems with the initiative’s specifics, particularly its taxing structure. At the same time, Lewis acknowledges that now, after decades of initiatives, there is a place to work from. Furthermore, even though it is far from a perfect law, the strict demands on testing and monitoring have resulted in an exceptionally safe and reliable product.
At this point, a recreational marijuana business is out there just trying to break even. As Lewis explains, this is a harshly taxed business, essentially being taxed three times on the state level with no tax breaks on the federal level since it remains classified as a “schedule 1 drug,” right along with heroin and LSD. With numerous restrictions and regulations to adhere to, and with various agencies, from banks to law enforcement, working in uncharted waters, there is a price to pay for an entrepreneur being there first. These are all issues seething in the background.
In the store, I found it to be a calm and enjoyable experience. It is an inviting atmosphere with original local art on the walls. I witnessed an engaging description of a vape pen kit. I saw attractive display of product under the glass cases. There was an impressive selection of cannabis on view. And, the more I observed, the more it just felt good, like any other boutique showroom with friendly and knowledgeable staff.
The customer base that Lewis described is as normal and everyday as you can imagine. The age range can be broad. It comes down to a demographic right in step with a similar group that would appreciate a fine microbrew beer, or fine wine, and is willing to pay a little more for the quality. These are older and more established folks in tune with the value of craft spirits.
Dockside is closely connected with the farms it works with so it truly provides a connoisseur experience. “We have something for everyone,” said Lewis. “For example, many creative people appreciate what we have to offer. Our sativa is popular as it provides a nice hum to work from.”
What’s vital now for Dockside Cannabis is to continue to grow and expand. The key to success will be selling product in volume and that will lead to bigger and better things. It will establish a foothold when the big corporate interests decide to enter the market and attempt to push aside the small independents. And it will lead to adjusted lower prices on product. This is definitely a franchise in the making with a new Dockside opening up in Seattle’s SoDo area, near the sports stadiums, very soon.
The next five to six years will be quite exciting to see as marijuana finds its feet in the marketplace. Lewis says that’s a good projection, according to what she’s read, for when marijuana will emerge on the national scene. She adds, there will always be conservative pockets in the country. Even with the end of Prohibition in 1933, there are still dry counties. And, even Colorado, with its own passing of a popular marijuana initiative, has cities resisting sales.
The stigma that has been attached to pot continues to steadily erode. The war on drugs has given way to a far more tolerant attitude among the general public. As Lewis points out, she’s a soccer mom and she’s worked hard to get her MBA. She’s not someone who enters into a career on a whim. At the end of the day, she’s excited about her work. As she points out, states will be coming around more and more to accepting marijuana in the marketplace as they seek better ways to get tax revenue.
Change is coming. States are stepping up to plate. Oregon is gearing up and will give Washington state a run for its money. There is really no time to lose. It will be a whole new landscape, sooner than later, to say the least. And Dockside is poised to be ready to meet the challenges and rewards ahead.
Dockside Cannabis is located at 15029 Aurora Ave N in Shoreline. Visit their store and, to keep up to date, go right here.