My Fun Story About the Recreational Cannabis Store in Seattle

OMG you guys I had no idea that marijuana is legal for recreational use in Washington state until I got there. Apparently there are only three stores that sell it recreationally, everywhere else requires you to have a doctor’s card (which to me feels like the grown-up version of getting a doctor’s note for school absence caused by illness).

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Dara brought me on a family vacation to Seattle, to hang with her family and for the headstone unveiling for her father who is buried there. After our time with the family (on the “east side” I’m told) we went to stay with her BFF from college who also lives in Seattle.

The last day of our visit I really wanted to go do something in nature. Seattle has these pretty spectacular views of mountains (almost 360 degrees) and gorgeous parks and evergreen trees and I knew going back to Brooklyn meant WINTER in full effect. Nature chills me out and helps me reboot. Unfortunately the weather had other ideas and it wasn’t just gloomy and no views that day, but raining. No one else was game for nature so I said, “Let’s do something really Seattle-y.” We decided to go to the flagship REI store to look around and to stop at the recreational marijuana store because I had never been to a store to purchase cannabis before and I thought it might make a fun story. Like “Hey friends, guess what I did in Seattle??”

Dara and I had tried to go into a medical establishment earlier during our trip while she was at an appointment that was next door to a joint that billed itself as “Seattle’s Amsterdam.” We walked in expecting it was one of the recreational places, but instead it was medical. Since we didn’t have doctor’s cards we couldn’t go in but the receptionist was nice enough to tell us what lay behind the curtain. There was a bar lined with many vaporizers where one could vape one’s choice of weed (we could actually see this beyond her desk, no one else was there). Then there was a lounge area with many couches and video game systems and movies and maybe snacks I don’t remember. It sounded to me like someone’s parents’ really cool rec room from like the 90s or something.

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This place we went to was one of the three recreational stores. We heard that the location in Downtown Seattle sometimes has shortages of product, as they can hardly keep it in stock to keep up with demand.

We walked in and were greeted by a friendly bouncer not unlike those you’d meet at a NYC club only those aren’t always friendly. This guy was super nice. The gentleman asked to see our IDs and then had us wait behind a rope before we were assigned a “budtender.” Readers of my blog know I love creative use of language and I’m stoked to have learned this new fun word!

16047341879_49668dce3e_zThe place we went to was right next door to a medical establishment–you can tell by the big green plus sign, obviously.

It wasn’t more than a minute before we were ushered into a room that looked like a jewelry store without a design aesthetic–gray walls, peg boards with some hanging bags and shelves and cases of well-lit product. All product was professionally vacuum sealed or ziplocked, and there appeared to be no decor.

The buds themselves (for those that don’t speak weed, those are the parts of the plant you consume by smoking, vaporizing or making into edibles or however you do your pot) were in clear easy to see pouches. Super nice for looking at since it is actually a really pretty part of the marijuana plant and I bet people who are more fluent in weed know what they’re looking at when they are shopping for it.

Rethinking Pot WashingtonPhoto from Columbian.com

The “budtender” we were assigned to walked us through how the product was organized. Given what I was told about a history of shortages, I did not expect to have as much choice. First, there were three farms who were supplying this joint. Second, each farm had many strains to choose from. All manner of various feelings elicited from each different plant. I like to shorthand weed varieties to “sit on the couch weed” indicas and “clean the kitchen weed” sativas but there’s also the “giggly have a good time” hybrids. (Also, being barely weed literate myself it is a struggle to not call sativas “stevia weed.” P.S. I just learned how to spell sativa for this blog post.)

We didn’t have a super charming relationship with our budtender. I wanted to have a lot of fun with him, allow him to be our personal shopper in this realm. Given that we were assigned a worker who was helping us I kind of thought how that would go. I’ve been a shop girl and worked retail a lot in my life, I am an awesome personal shopper.

marijuanauseinwashingtonconcordmonitordotcomIf you ask a budtender a question about the legalities of marijuana use in Washington they will hand you this pamphlet. Photo via AP Photo by Ted Warren.

However, our budtender didn’t really know how to take us and didn’t really interact with us quite well. Maybe he doesn’t get a lot of exuberant, curious out of towners? Maybe he is more accustomed to selling to people who are fluent in weed? I know he would have been great for someone who was just stopping in and knew what they wanted, as he did know the product, just not quite how to sell it. Personal shopping is really about matchmaking, reading energy and meeting people where they are at. Anyway, I hope that weed novices have a better guide through the experience than the one we were given.

I have a complex political relationship with the legalization of marijuana movement. I like it in that I believe it should be legal on principle. But I also know that many people of color are behind bars because of drug crimes and it’s primarily white men who are the folks with access to capital and who are opening the establishments who are profiting off of the legalization. I’d love to see some use of the taxes for buying marijuana used as a kind of reparations for folks who lost years of their freedom to drug crimes.

That is the background to the question I asked our budtender next. I wanted to know about the origins of the product. “Do you have any pot grown by lesbians?” He seemed flustered and totally unable to answer any questions about the origins of the three farms who produce the product they sold. I mean, I know some lesbian legalized marijuana farmers. And I bet there are some farms run by people of color. I want to support them if I can!

I am going to own once more that I was expecting a personal shopping experience. But really, if you have only three farms wouldn’t you do meet and greets with the farmers and your staff to know who you’re buying from? Or is that not how this works and I’m confusing legalized marijuana with artisinal cheese stores? Am I too much of a hipster?

Anyway, after we settled on an arbitrary giggly weed as a thank you gift to our hosts for the last part of our stay in Seattle, I moved on to examining the edibles they have for sale, most hanging from the wall. The best part of the legalization of marijuana in my opinion is knowing how much THC is in a given edible. You don’t want to end up eating too much and having to chant the serenity prayer to yourself in order to not lose it while walking home alone because calling a taxi or taking the bus is too complicated. Just a totally random example of what can go wrong with edibles that aren’t dosed.

But here’s the thing also, everyone’s body is different and reacts differently. I knew that and when the budtender told me that these keefe capsules were on sale and took effect within a half an hour, I believed him. I didn’t remember what I know about everybody’s body being different. I also thought it would be a better bet for me than buying some lozenges ($45 for a tin, but easy to dose in 5mg portions) or a big bag of chocolate covered pretzels because we were leaving the next day and I just wanted something to make the gray day of Seattle more interesting and possibly have a LOT of fun at REI.

zootsThey sell this brand of lozenges.

I was only just told about kief like two weeks before this by a good friend who often rolls her eyes at how little I speak weed. Kief (I only just learned how to spell that for this blog entry, too) is the resin from the pot plant that is super powerful. So I was like, great, why eat something when I can just pop a fast-acting capsule?

So I bought the 2 for $20 thinking I would use one and leave the other behind with our hosts.

We checked out (by the way they use a totally normal point of sale system like a retail store would). When I was charged $41 I thought “Oh wow, the 50% tax thing is so real here” as I had heard the legalized recreational marijuana was taxed at 50%. But before I left I checked in with someone else besides our budtender and it turns out he had heard “I want the 2 for $20” deal as I somehow wanted two packets of two capsules for $40? Yeah. So I got to do a return for one of the packets in spite of their very strict no returns policy because of budtender error. And I got to meet the manager and it was a fun time. And by fun I mean a hassle but whatever it was pretty easy just time consuming.

Oh yeah, it’s cash only.

After the retail experience, I took a kief tablet–around 2PM on Sunday. Waited two hours and just kind of barely felt a body high and decided to take the second one. On account of sometimes larger bodies need larger doses. And not really feeling anything. I chalked it up to a loss and enjoyed the REI trip and our last night in town.

IMG_20150104_162638There is a Game of Thrones Iron Throne replica made of skis, poles and snowboards painted silver at the Seattle REI right now.

Our flight was at 8:50AM so we had to wake up around 6AM. I was feeling kind of groggy but thought it was lack of sleep. Once we got to the airport and I interacted with the baggage attendants I knew I was high.

Of course when I was high the interaction was wildly awkward. I was worried that my suitcase was over 50 pounds. I gave it to her and she put the tag on it without weighing it. Rather than just letting it go and not worrying about it I asked if it was under 50 pounds. So then she weighed it! I was going to get dinged for the overweight charge. (In the states we have to pay extra money for our luggage if it exceeds 50 pounds, and the first bag costs $25 to check each way.) Luckily it was 48.5 pounds but dealing with an awkward social interaction with monetary consequences is stressful when you’re sober, not accidentally really high. Now I was going to have to process those feelings and interact with airport personnel while those tablets were kicking in. Some 17 hours after I consumed them.

Next thing that happened was that we were in security and there was no line. Usually there’s a line at the end of the long maze of rope barriers to give you time to pull out your ID and boarding pass, but we walked right up to the security officer. Of course that’s when my id won’t come out of my wallet thought I keep trying, and a line is forming behind me. And then that’s when I hand her the wrong boarding pass, the one for our connecting flight. Oh that was stressful and terrible while high.

Then we’re getting through the xray machine and we’re taking forever because we have to pull off shoes and pull out laptops and we had Macy and she had to come out of her bag. And again we arrived at no waiting and a line formed behind us. And when Dara was pulling Macy out of the bag the zipper on her backpack caught her tail and we couldn’t get it loose, nor could the TSA agent who tried to help us and we had to get them to get scissors for us so we could cut her loose. And then I’m walking through the xray machine, getting pulled aside to get my palms tested for explosives while holding a shih tzu and unexpectedly getting higher than I was before. I have no idea how I held it together.

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We got to our gate and noticed a long line to speak to the gate agent and didn’t think much of it until we heard the announcement that our flight was delayed due to a mechanical error and they weren’t sure if we were going to leave at all. The whole thing was very stressful and I was so glad I had Dara, sober, there to spot me and make sure I wasn’t going to get arrested or die at the airport.

Also I was high so I accidentally said aloud on our flight that I was stoned and horrified Dara as she was charming our seatmate, an elderly woman whose politics and lifestyle judgements we didn’t know. And I also accidentally spilled coffee on my leg, which I didn’t realize until the guy behind me pointed it out.

But other than that, we got home fine. Our flight was ultimately delayed 2 hours, we somehow had our connecting flight delayed 45 minutes and was right next to the gate for our first flight so we managed to just barely make it and got home within a couple of hours of our original ETA. And by the time I got on the ground in NYC I was sober and grumpy. And it was really really cold here.

I said I wanted a fun story–that’s my fun story about recreational marijuana sales in Washington State.

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