By Oliver Lazenby
Blaine’s newest cannabis store opened on March 6, and even before it did, its name was turning heads.
The new store, Dank of America, is at 2530 Peace Portal Drive, next to the Shell station.
“I was outside the store and someone finished pumping gas and drove up to me to say, ‘I love that name,’ even though he wasn’t coming into the store,” said Don Hartleben, store manager and bud-
Dank is a slang term for potent marijuana, and carrying dank weed is one of the store’s goals. Owner Tom Wartinger said he strives for a big selection, decent prices and quality product.
“Quality is number one for us,” he said. “If the product is not up to our standards we send it back, and we’ve already done that quite a bit, actually.”
The store carries marijuana grown in Whatcom County, as well as products from as far away as Spokane and Vancouver, Washington. It also has a medical endorsement and an area dedicated to medical products, which have different compounds than nonmedical products – typically, more CBD and less THC. Wartinger said he plans to soon have licensed medical consultants on hand to help customers.
Wartinger became interested in the business when he saw how marijuana helped a friend through cancer treatment.
“It made his treatment tolerable,” Wartinger said.
The business is a new world for Wartinger, who owns a pizza franchise. There are similarities between the businesses, but the marijuana industry is much more strictly regulated.
Just finding a location to open a marijuana business is difficult, as most jurisdictions restrict where shops can open, and each city and county has its own set of rules and regulations.
Security requirements are some of the more onerous regulations, Wartinger said. Every inch of his store has to be on camera at all times. Because of that and other factors, Wartinger has been working toward opening for about four months.
The state has additional rules that restrict marijuana retailers from being within 1,000 feet of a school playground, library and other places where children might hang out.
On top of that, would-be business owners need to find a storefront with a landlord who’s open to marijuana. So Wartinger, who lives in Lake Stevens, searched far and wide for a spot to open his business, which led to Blaine.
“This was one of the only spots we could find,” he said. “Being near the exits is really good and the landlord is a pretty nice guy. We like this community.”
Note from the editor: The original version of this story misstated the name of store manager and bud-tender Don Hartleben. We regret the error.