In one of my previous articles, I was rather preachy admittedly; I spoke about being a “good Cannabis neighbor”. I have been a good neighbor, a good tenant, a good citizen on the City, County, State and Federal level(s). I have made my lease payments on time, I have remitted my excise tax to the State of Washington on time or even early, I have never written a bad check to a vendor and I have never abused my relationship with any of our producer/processor friends.
And there are more, but if I get too deeply into those topics here, I’ll be too obviously foreshadowing as to what the next article will be referencing. Wink, wink!
This article will delve into what it means to be a bad neighbor, a bad influence in our still controversial industry, a bad steward of our still fragile Cannabis world in Washington State and to a great degree, the USA as a whole.
As I may have mentioned in an earlier article in CLR, that’s just a cute way of admitting I did in fact mention what I am about to say before, I was the first retail Cannabis shop to open in my hometown of Ellensburg located in Central Washington State. I had the City and the County all to my lonesome for a year.
The second shop opened almost to the day a year after I did. Now you may have already guessed, I have found fault with the way this shop has conducted business in my hometown.
I’ll do my level best to stick with facts and when sharing an opinion, I’ll warn you first.
This second shop opened in early September 2015. They are located in mid Ellensburg right on Main Street. Surrounded by small business all along Main Street, the first step they took in the way of “easing” into legal Cannabis in the heart of Ellensburg was to erect a sign. This sign was 6 feet x 10 feet, mounted on a round pole approximately with the sign itself about 5 feet off the ground. The pole was painted bright green about a foot in diameter. The box style letters of the sign, approximately 1 foot in size each, were of the same color green and formed the simple message: LEGAL WEED. This sign was and still is, in a word, obnoxious. The business neighbors were fit to be tied and it understandably caused quite the uproar. So much for being a “good neighbor”. (Oh gosh, I was supposed to warn you first if an opinion was in your future. It’ll probably happen again!) The sign was apparently not on their “premises” as defined by their lease/rental agreement so the size, color and contents of the sign were left up to the City of Ellensburg. After hearing many protests about the size, content and location of said sign, it was, begrudgingly, approved by the City. The owner’s opinion was simple; “It’s legal so y’all just are gonna have to relax!”. In addition, she had an older panel van painted with essentially the same message, though eventually the LCB told her that was against the rules regarding marketing/advertising.
As you may have guessed, I am not a fan of the “it’s legal so I’m going to poke you all in the eye” kind of mentality. I respect those who are uncomfortable with the legalization and therefore the normalization of Cannabis in our society. Frankly speaking, I was myself uncomfortable with Cannabis and Cannabis consumers prior to my becoming immersed in 502, my State’s Initiative which led to the legalization of Cannabis for adult use. I have learned so much but how many of our citizens have the time or the inclination to really learn about what it is they claim to be against. It’s easier just to sit back and hate it without knowing exactly why. And as strange as it may sound, I kinda understand that way of thinking. I suppose that’s the reason why I will not poke the bear, I will not condemn those who are not fans of our chosen field. I empathize and I will try to change opinions one interaction at the time. But again, I am giving away another topic for another day.
The business also has had two (2) major violations since opening; one was selling to a minor and the other was minor on premises, two separate violations. The biggest argument against 502 in our State has always been that the normalization of Cannabis in our communities will lead to greater use by minors. So how does this shop attempt to assuage those who harbor these concerns??? She sells to a minor not long at all after her Grand Opening!
The LCB conducts compliance checks, the law says they must conduct minor sales checks at least three (3) times per year per State legal retail Cannabis shop. But it’s not hard to pass; they never try to fool you with a fake ID, the ID always belongs to the minor in question. They will never attempt to fool an employee with fake beards, make-up, or otherwise. The minor, who in an interesting twist, is an actual employee of the LCB, will walk in, hold out their Washington State driver license in plain sight and since it’s a “vertical”, which means when it was issued, the individual was in fact under the age of 21, the employee(s) should be really at attention. No excuses in my book. They play it straight, no twists or turns. It’s always nerve wracking and I admit my BP rises just a bit when I see the vertical ID. Ok, I think to myself, this could be a test so stay calm, and don’t screw it up. Breathe, take another look, do the math, and kick the little bastard out! I know that sounds harsh, but anything or anyone that presents a threat to my livelihood is someone or something I’m going to deal with harshly. But they failed…twice. Makes us all look bad.
There are other aspects of this other shop’s business plan that I frankly do not agree with but they may very well fall under the above referenced “opinion clause” so I’ll back off for now. But suffice it to say that people like us who have freely chosen to get into Cannabis need to understand there are lots of citizens, good people many if not most of them, who have genuine concerns about this direction Washington State has chosen to go in. We are much, much better served in the big picture and in the long run treating all members of our respective communities with respect and understanding. We must be patient with those who object and we most definitely do not help ourselves when we metaphorically poke our neighbors in the eye and ridicule their feelings about our industry. In addition, I have never been able to predict with good reliability those of my acquaintances who were going to be combative or supportive. And I never argue, rather I indicate I understand how they feel and that I used to feel the same way, but after more than five years in the industry, have come to see things differently. I hope to change people’s with a great respect for their current opinions.
We in the State legal Cannabis industry must respect that this is not all a “done deal”. We have got to be doing it better, neater and cleaner than any other industry in the Country now and for the foreseeable future. Now, I will climb down off my preaching pedestal and say good day to you all. Thanks for listening. Go out and make it a great day!
Rob Hendrix, Owner
Cannabis Central LLC
Cannabis Consulting Nationwide LLC