Cannabis Chronicles Blog

Looking back on a strange week for the marijuana industry

CannaMan flowers close up

It’s been a weird week for marijuana news.

First, the newly named Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board released figures on Tuesday that appeared to show the fledgling recreational cannabis industry beginning to plateau after just one year in business. Sales appeared to take a dip of a little more than $554,000 from June to July, according to the data.

And that was especially strange, because store owners in Clark County expected July to be their best month yet. The expectations made perfect sense. Possession became legal in Oregon just before the Fourth of July weekend and Vancouver’s two biggest stores, Main Street Marijuana and New Vansterdam, celebrated their one-year anniversaries that month.

Sure enough, the state’s data was wrong. On Friday, the agency quietly posted the correct numbers showing an increase of more than $1.7 million in sales for the month.

The data also showed that five of Clark County’s seven pot shops had their best month yet. Main Street Marijuana did about $2.8 million worth of sales, not only outpacing every other store in the state but also surpassing owner Ramsey Hamide’s prediction that the store would sell $2.5 million worth of pot in July.

New Vansterdam followed close behind, selling upwards of $1.8 million worth of marijuana. That’s good enough for third in the state in sales for the month.

Then of course, earlier this week, Spokane County’s busiest pot shop, Green Light, was robbed in an armed takeover. Two people entered the store with pistols, handcuffs and zip ties. They took off with a bunch of marijuana and an undisclosed amount of cash while leaving two employees and a customer bound inside.

It was the first armed robbery we’ve seen for the young and developing industry. And that’s come as a surprise to many spectators of the market, because while pot shops, growers and processors have been forced to do pretty much all of their business in cash, you’d think these things might happen more often.

Of course, local stores and growers have gone to great lengths to protect their businesses, installing surveillance cameras and bullet-proof glass, barring their windows and even fortifying the walls in some cases. On top of that, all of Washington’s pot shops have security guards at the front door.

All things considered, it’s actually a little strange the robbers got away and haven’t been caught yet. They were even captured on video inside and outside the store. The footage shows a pretty clear shot of one of their faces just before the robbery.

For business owners, the silver lining on this whole issue of security for a cash-only industry is that Congress is working on a bill that would allow banks to take money from marijuana businesses. We’ll see where it goes this summer.

Anyway, take away what you will from this odd news week. I’m just glad it’s over.

– Justin Runquist