For the first time, marijuana sales in Washington have surpassed $200 million in one quarter – and the sales gap between marijuana and alcohol is shrinking, according to the Associated press.
In quarter two – April, May and June, marijuana sales reached $212 million while alcohol reached $249 million, a sales gap of $37 million. Just one quarter before, the sales gap was $54 million, according to the associated press.
Top Shelf Cannabis and Trove Cannabis are two recreational marijuana shops that have seen the increase in sales firsthand.
Top Shelf Cannabis
The first recreational marijuana shop in Washington, Top Shelf Cannabis, opened in Bellingham, on July 8, 2014.
Zachary Henifin, an employee at Top Shelf Cannabis, said marijuana sales are increasing as stigmas attached to marijuana begin to fade – a change he attributes to education.
“Imagine your government and other powers telling you this plant is evil and dangerous since… forever… ,” Henifin wrote in an email. “That is going to stick with you until you give it a shot yourself.”
Customers at his store range from lawyers to former smokers who are ready to light-up since marijuana has become legal, Henifin said. Additionally, more people are comfortable smoking outside their homes.
“Seeing sales go up does further cement marijuana into Washington State’s economy, which is good for everyone.”
The increase in sales helps more than just local shops, Henifin said.
“Seeing sales go up does further cement marijuana into Washington State’s economy, which is good for everyone,” Henifin said.
Top Shelf Cannabis has expanded to two shops in Bellingham and one in Oregon, with a second Oregon shop in the planning stage, Henifin said.
Henifin said the discreet location of Top Shelf Cannabis’ store on Hannigan Road has allowed more people to feel comfortable in the store.
“Prices and selection are key for us, but what really drives it home is our relaxed atmosphere,” Henifin said. “We want everyone to feel comfortable.”
After graduating from Western, Moe Herbert took a job at Trove Cannabis, another recreational shop in Bellingham. He is currently the marketing and vendor coordinator at Trove, which celebrated its one-year anniversary on Nov. 13, 2016.
Herbert said one of the biggest misconceptions people have about marijuana is the idea the drug will make you lazy, and the image most people have of the typical stoner.
“Those misconceptions are slowly falling away,” Herbert said.
The social attitudes toward marijuana have become, at least from the retail side, much calmer, Herbert said.
“People feel like they can experiment with marijuana again and not feel so scared about it, because they are doing it legally and in their own homes,” Herbert said.
“Every month seems to be better than the next,” Herbet said.
Trove is largely supported by college customers, especially because of its location near Western’s campus. But Herbert said he also sees a wide variety of people from the 20 to 30 year-old range.
“You see all sorts of people come in which is the best thing ever,” Herbert said. “You get to talk to different people from all walks of life.”
With such a rapidly growing market, Herbert said Trove is going through a lot of changes, trying to figure out what works. Herbert has been experimenting with different marketing techniques, because marijuana is a “trend market,” he said.
During the summertime, when Bellingham residents tend to be more active and social, edibles and pre-rolled joints sell quicker, Herbert said. While in the fall and winter, more routine smokers come in on a weekly or daily basis to get their usual product.
The upward trend in marijuana sales is something that Herbert believes will increase.
“I definitely see it surpassing alcohol, or at least always being able to match it,” Herbert said. “Just because as more people are open to the idea of smoking it, now that it is legal, people are enjoying it more so than alcohol.”
Herbert said he hopes other states follow Washington’s lead, and legalize or decriminalize marijuana use. Herbert said legalized marijuana has made the state more money, created more jobs, moved the economy along and kept people out of jail.