By Steve Gutnli
After several delays, Blaine’s first recreational marijuana store is set for its grand opening this weekend.
Evergreen Cannabis at 922 Peace Portal Drive is preparing for its grand opening on Friday, January 23. Owner Jacob Lamont originally planned to open the shop in late November, but was slowed down by some delays with the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB).
“It was just one thing after another,” Lamont said. “But all of the sudden, things just cleared up and we could do it. I don’t have a lot of complaints about the liquor board and how they do things. They’ve actually been pretty great; I just wish it had all happened a little quicker.”
The store is fully stocked with a variety of strains, edibles and lozenges from processors around the state. Lamont’s hope is to eventually carry only local products. He hopes the grand opening will be something of a weekend-long event.
“We want the community to come out and meet us and see that we have a friendly, professional environment,” Lamont said. “We want people to know that even if they don’t believe in marijuana, they can believe that this will be a draw and a benefit to the city.”
Lamont had a soft opening last week, but will celebrate the official grand opening on January 23. He and his team of four employees wanted to spend a few extra days working on the interior.
“We really want it to look professional,” he said. “We don’t want people to think we’re just lounging around in here.”
The back wall of the store is currently just painted white, but Lamont plans to convert the space into a small display chronicling the history of hemp around the world. Lamont has begun gathering images, artifacts and historical facts about marijuana from around the world for his display.
The store opening comes at a good time for consumers. A recent study indicates that the price of legal pot has dropped by 40 percent to an average of $15 per gram. In July, when the first retail pot shops in Washington opened, the state experienced a supply shortage, driving the prices as high as $25 a gram. Since then, the board has issued more licenses for grower/processors.
Ironically, many growers are now experiencing the opposite problem as they did last year: too much weed, not enough retailers. Currently 270 growers operate in the state, and only about 85 retailers, according to the WSLCB. Randy Simmons, the legal pot manager for the board, said he hopes another 100 retail stores will open within the next six months.
Lamont’s prices are currently sitting at about $18 a gram, slightly lower than the average price of $20 per gram in Bellingham. He said he eventually hopes to have the lowest prices in Washington.
“I’m not really in this to make big bundles of cash,” he said. “I just want to get the word out and draw people to the area.”
Lamont’s next goal is to open a branch of Evergreen Cannabis on Birch Bay-Lynden Road. He said the process is already underway and he hopes to have the second storefront open by this summer.
“Putting Blaine on the map has always been one of my goals,” he said. “I look around here and I see such potential.”