High End Market Place, Vancouver Chamber celebrate 420
Marijuana customers lined the block outside High End Market Place on Monday to kick off the cannabis-focused April 20 holiday known as 420.
The store celebrated with a host of sales, speeches from members of Vancouver’s business and political communities, and a ribbon-cutting honoring the first local marijuana business to join the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s good for our community, it’s good for business,” Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt said of the city’s cannabis industry. “This is largely an acknowledgement that there are a lot of people who want to enjoy marijuana and enjoy it legally.”
Marijuana sales taxes since the first stores opened in July 2014 have netted the city about $150,000, he added.
Kelly Love, president of the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, who also attended the event, said she hopes more local marijuana businesses will feel welcome to join her organization.
“We’re supportive of all commerce,” Love said. “We want all businesses to be successful. There’s no should or shouldn’t (about supporting the marijuana industry) with this. We do support it and all businesses in our community.”
Morgan Hutchinson, one of the store’s owners, has done some work in the past for the chamber. She said she was honored to have her business be the first in the industry to join the group.
“I’m really excited,” Hutchinson said. “They welcomed me in. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. This is all going to normalize. I’m proud to be part of the chamber and I’d love to join the Vancouver Downtown Association as well.”
Through the morning, cars rolled by, with drivers honking occasionally or yelling “yay 420!” as customers waited in line for some of the best prices since recreational marijuana stores first opened. High End Market Place had some deals for grams of marijuana at $4.20 each, which is at or below black market price.
“I think this is great,” said Jeff Steeley, an uptown resident and frequent customer at the shop. “Legalization is something the state needed to do. It’s great revenue and the stigma’s fading. The Pacific Northwest, we’re really open to things. I think we’re more accepting of this than other parts of the country.”
Main Street Marijuana also saw brisk sales all weekend. The store set a daily sales record of $80,000 on Saturday and was on course to break that record as of early Monday afternoon.
“It’s been tremendously busy all weekend,” said Ramsey Hamide, owner of Main Street Marijuana. “We’ve had record numbers of sales every day.”
Other stores across Clark County saw similar increased traffic throughout the day as customers lined up for an array of special deals.
Love said she thinks the stigma will continue to fade as the industry matures.
“This is a drug that people can get everywhere and anywhere,” Love said. “The people of Washington made it legal. We want to show this can be a positive experience.”
Leavitt said that he, personally, would be open to the idea of marijuana-smoking clubs in Vancouver, much like legal cigar clubs in other parts of the state. But, he added, that decision will have to be made by the full city council.
“At some point it’s going to have to be a discussion we take up in a public forum and see if we’re able to do that,” he said. “Personally I wouldn’t have an issue with smoke rooms, but as a council, the discussion is still early.”
He also said he’d be open to talking about a possible hempfest in the city.
“As more of these stores open up and people see it’s not a big deal, I think hempfests would be another great summer event for our community,” Leavitt said.
Leavitt also cut the ribbon at the grand opening of Main Street Marijuana, the first recreational shop to open in the city, on July 9, 2014.