Rivals fail to faze local pot stores
The owner of one of Vancouver’s highest-grossing marijuana stores envisions a future where the Southwest Washington-Portland region is “the Napa Valley for marijuana.”
“It’s not Oregon versus Washington,” said Ramsey Hamide, the owner of Main Street Marijuana.
So he says he’s not worried about competition from newly legalized sales of recreational marijuana in Oregon, despite the approximate 10 percent hit to his bottom line last week.
“You have two states with unique products,” he said.
Since Oct. 1, Oregonians 21 and older have been legally able to purchase recreational marijuana in their state. So how much will that reduce sales here?
Main Street Marijuana and New Vansterdam are consistently the highest-grossing pot shops in Washington. Some have theorized that when Oregon legalized marijuana, sales here would suffer.
Not only is Oregon marijuana more convenient for Oregon customers, it may be cheaper, at least at first. Oregon’s recreational pot is tax-free until Jan. 4. Washington’s marijuana is taxed at 37 percent.
“From what I’m seeing, the price point difference is $2 or $3 bucks,” said Shon-Lueiss Harris, with New Vansterdam, a marijuana retailer in Vancouver. “When you’re talking about driving into Portland, that might not make enough of a difference.”
Sales at New Vansterdam remained steady, Harris said. Thursday’s sales, roughly about $50,000 in a day, matched up with previous Thursday numbers.
Harris also maintained Oregon’s move to legalize marijuana will improve the overall industry.
“The more we raise the bar, the more people realize this is a legitimate business,” he said.
Jim Mullen, who co-owns The Herbery, with two locations in Vancouver, pointed out there are still a lot of marijuana products available in Southwest Washington — such as edibles — that aren’t being sold in Oregon. And starting next summer many existing recreational retail outlets in Washington plan to start selling medical marijuana.
“That will bring new customers to us,” Mullen said.
Vancouver has six retail marijuana stores and Battle Ground has one. Vancouver is expected to receive $795,500 in marijuana excise tax for the state’s 2016 fiscal year, which runs from July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016. It’s the highest any city in the state has received.
The total marijuana sales in the state so far, according to the Liquor and Cannabis Board, is about $260 million.
Brian Smith, a spokesman for the board, said it’s too early to tell what kind of impact Oregon’s marijuana sales will have in Washington. Once Oregon’s taxes kick in, state officials will begin to analyze the impact, Smith said.
Salem, Ore., resident Mark Edwards made headlines last year when he was the first to buy legal recreational marijuana in Vancouver.
Last week, he bought pot the first day it was legal in his home state, but there was less fanfare. There was no line, he said, and he made his selection and purchase within five minutes and was out the door. He doesn’t have any plans or reason to continue buying marijuana in Washington, he said.
“I’ll be getting it here in Oregon,” he said.
Amy M.E. Fischer of The Columbian contributed to this report.