Green Friday: Historic shopping in legalization’s wake

I admit I’ve never been a big fan of the over-commercialization that comes with the launch of holiday shopping season every year.

This year, though, there’s an odd twist to the Black Friday phenomenon that marks the launch of that season. Because, at least in Washington and Colorado, it’s the first time that consumers can legally buy marijuana as stocking stuffers or gifts for their cannabis-loving friends.

In both states, pot shops have taken to calling the day “Green Friday,” and they’re offering the same sorts of door buster deals and price drops that you might expect in more conventional stores.

Holiday food drive at New Vansterdam
(Holiday food drive at New Vansterdam)

Here in Clark County, all three operating marijuana stores – New Vansterdam, Main Street Marijuana and the Cannabis Country Store – are also planning special deals for the day.

It’s historic, if a little strange because of the stigma that still surrounds the plant.

Shon-Lueiss Francoise Harris, a spokesman for New Vansterdam, said customers who aren’t smokers have already started coming in asking about what their pot-using friends might like for gifts.

“We’ve had people come in, look at the case and say ‘it’s not for me, it’s for my friend who smokes a lot,” Francoise Harris said. “Then they ask ‘What do they want?'”

The answer to that question, though, depends on the friend, their tastes and interests, he said.

(Customers look at an array of items at New Vansterdam)
(Customers look at an array of items at New Vansterdam)

Especially when it comes to picking strains, there’s no one-type-fits-all solution. And smoking gear also runs through a range of products.

That’s not to say that it’s too complex for stores to help non-smokers pick gifts for their friends, only that non-smokers should know a bit about their friends’ tastes so that budtenders can help them better find the best gifts.

Loren Carlson, owner of the Cannabis Country Store in Battle Ground, said he understands that some would-be shoppers who don’t use marijuana might be nervous going into a pot store.

His shop, which recently opened, likes to cater to new users or gift buyers that don’t know much about the product and its use. And his staff try to make the store as welcoming as possible, Carlson said.

“If you’re uncertain about it I’d say come on in, talk to our budtenders and they can go through the options with you,” Carlson said. “We have some really good, solid individuals that can help if you don’t know much about it.”

Ramsey Hamide, a manager at Main Street Marijuana, said customers are also more than welcome to learn about a variety of products at his store.

As for cannabis gear, there are several relatively inexpensive items out there that pot fans might like. Grinders, for instance, come in a variety of materials and sizes that can range from a few dollars to about $60.

Grinders are used to turn marijuana buds into a relatively uniform material that makes for smoother smoking – or that can be used in some vaporizers. They’re something that those returning to pot after a long hiatus might not know about, but can make their marijuana experience more enjoyable, Francoise Harris said.

“We also have things like a (joint) rolling station, a ready-to-go kit with everything they need, vaporizers, storage containers and lots of other items,” he said.

All three stores, along with head shops like Mary Jane’s House of Glass, sell a broad range of that sort of gear for would-be shoppers.

Pot strains can be a little bit more challenging for gift buyers.

There are hundreds of strains out there used for a variety of different things (different types of high, different medical uses, different body feelings).

New Vansterdam expects to have about 80 strains on hand for its Green Friday sale this week. Main Street Marijuana will have a similar amount. The Cannabis Country Store will likely have closer to 25 or so, but the store anticipates having a wider variety as the season continues.

(Agrijuana strains at the Cannabis Country Store)
(Agrijuana strains at the Cannabis Country Store)

And all the stores are planning special sales, with some strains or joints in the $10 to $15 range for the Nov. 28 Green Friday event.

“We’ll have one of our biggest menus ever,” Francoise Harris said. “Several will be daily deals. They’re actually as low as we can go, and we’ll be losing some money, but it’s a way to thank our customers.”

Stores are being a bit tight-lipped in advance of sales day as to what their prices will be, so I’ll list their websites at the bottom of this page so people can see for themselves what they have to offer as Friday approaches.

And something to note: Under current Washington I-502 law, it’s illegal to share marijuana, meaning technically if you get caught giving someone a strain as a gift, you are breaking the law. And, as always, it’s all illegal for anyone under age 21.

That said, there’s been discussion on the state level about changing the sharing rule, which is at best impractical. And as far as Christmas gifts go, it seems unlikely that it will be enforced for legal adults giving gifts to other legal adults in Washington state.

(Let’s call this the ‘we don’t condone breaking the law, but if you do’ caveat)

So, if you’re trying to decide on a strain and don’t know much about what’s out there, Leafly.com has a lot of information and a searchable database where you can look up various things you might see in a store.

Some of the most popular strains you might find in Vancouver stores this season are Blue Dream (a hybrid strain), Sour Diesel (a sativa) and Afgoo (or Afgooey, an indica). There are also some Blueberry (another indica) and other strains starting to appear that have high levels of CBD, a component of marijuana used in the medical sector for pain and body relaxation.

What do those varieties actually do? In general, indicas are known as a heavier body stone that may make you sleepy. People say they’re good for hanging around on the couch and watching movies. Sativas are known for a more lively head high, good for hiking or house work. And hybrid strains combine effects of both types of plant to get their own feel.

How about you all? Are you planning on doing some holiday cannabis shopping? What would you recommend for those looking for gifts for their pot-loving friends? What’s your most wished-for item?

We’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

Hope everybody has a great holiday!

-SueVo (sue.vorenberg@columbian.com)

Vancouver store contact info:

New Vansterdam:
(360) 597-4739
6515 E Mill Plain Blvd
Facebook Page
@NVansterdam on Twitter

Main Street Marijuana:
(360) 828-7737
2314 Main St.
@mainstmj on Twitter
Facebook Page

Clark County store info:

Cannabis Country Store (opened in early November, 2014)
1910 W. Main Street
Battle Ground, WA
(360) 723-0073
Facebook Page