The amount of recreational marijuana bought from July 2014 to June 2015 in Whatcom County reached about $8.1in retail sales.
The retail store 2020 Solutions was one of Washington’s first recreational marijuana retailers and has contributed to the $8 million in sales to customers.
This number, however, does not include the sales of producers and processors in Whatcom County, just the retail sales from customers.
Aaron Nelson, vice president of operations for 2020 Solutions, said he is the man behind the scenes who ensures the customers get a great experience while at 2020 Solutions.
“We’re seeing 500 to 600 customers a day on average between our two stores,” Nelson said. “Sales are selling over $400,000 a month and that continues to increase.”
The store opened the first of its two locations in July 2014 on Iron Street, with the second store that opened in November 2014 in north Bellingham.
According to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Control Board, recreational marijuana retailer sales document from July 2014 to June 2015, the Iron Street store location has collected a total of $2.2 million in retail sales. The second location in north Bellingham has a total of $996,994 in retail sales for the amount of time they have been open.
The two stores combined have a cumulative of $3.2 million from July 2014 to June 2015 in retail sales.
The business owner of 2020 Solutions, Troy Lozano, said they want to educate the community on what they are doing with the money and how much money they have contributed to the area.
Lozano said he is proud of what his company is doing because they are very responsible and knowledgeable, Lozano said. He employs about 25 to 30 local people between both stores and they receive about 30 to 40 percent above minimum wage.
2020 Solutions puts a lot of money into their training process for its staff to make sure they’re knowledgeable, Lozano said.
“We definitely have competition,” Nelson said. “You have to set yourself apart by providing a superior level of service and a superior product in order to be successful.”
Nelson said even though there is competition, recreational marijuana stores have a similar goal in mind, which is to promote responsible use of cannabis in the area and provide a safe environment for customers to purchase.
Top Shelf Cannabis, owned by Thomas Beckley, was the first recreational marijuana store to open in the state of Washington.
“Uncle Sam and the local governments are getting a heck of a lot more money than we are,” Beckley said. “We’re taxed at probably 78 percent out of all our money that goes out into taxes, and the remaining 22 percent we have to pay for our employees, our building and our product.”
Top Shelf Cannabis made $1.7 million in retail sales from July 2014 to June 2015. Even though it sounds like there is a good amount of money, there really isn’t that much because it is going out to taxes and other people, Beckley said.
Austin Wilson, a senior at Western, said he was surprised that the retail stores in Whatcom County have reached over $8 million, and added that when he turns 21 he will check out retailers like 2020 Solutions.
“It’s super convenient and you don’t have to worry about the sketchyness of going through a drug dealer,” Wilson said. “There’s a lot of variety, good deals and it’s not just weed, you can get paraphernalia and you can also buy tobacco products.”
Whatcom County is supported by an accepting community of marijuana supporters, as well as voters who voted in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana in 2012, Nelson said. They are standing behind their choices by supporting the program with their purchases, Nelson said.
Voters in Washington state voted yes on Initiative 502 in 2012, which allowed the recreational sale of marijuana to those who are 21 years of age or older.
According to Washington State Department of Revenue, Washington has generated over $80 million in tax revenue from marijuana retail stores.
Tourism dollars also contribute to the revenue of local marijuana retailers, Nelson said. He said 2020 Solutions receives anywhere between 10 to 20 percent of their customer base from Canada.
Along with a high ratio of retail stores to the Whatcom County population, 2020 Solutions has provided the community with resources to help them and the economy.
“We started an industry that was virtually nonexistent,” Nelson said. “We’ve provided more than 20 jobs, [and] we contributed almost $600,000 a year in wages to our local community.”
Top Shelf Cannabis and 2020 Solutions both ranked in over $1 million dollars from July 2014 to June 2015.