The Columbian / Associated Press

Shopping with Snoop Dogg at Mary Jane’s House of Grass

Rap star Snoop Dogg enters Mary Jane's House of Grass on Mill Plain Boulevard in Vancouver for a meet and greet event on Wednesday. (Ariane Kunze/The Columbian)

As soon as he read Snoop Dogg was making an appearance in Vancouver, Portland resident Derek Palmer bought the ticket, then he set to work on a gift for the hip hop icon.

“I hope he likes it,” Palmer said, holding a framed black and white spray painted stenciled portrait of the star while standing in line outside Mary Jane’s House of Grass on Wednesday afternoon, waiting for Snoop Dogg to pull up and walk the red carpet into the store.

“At this point, it’s nostalgia. When I was super young my older brother bought me (his first album). I listen to his new stuff, but his older stuff resonates,” Palmer said.

Mary Jane’s House of Grass is a marijuana kiosk store within the Mary Jane’s House of Glass operation at 8312 E. Mill Plain Blvd., a business of more than 10 stores that sell smoking glass pipes and other marijuana lifestyle accessories. Through the end of the week, Snoop Dogg is also appearing at other House of Glass stores in Southwestern Washington.

Palmer was one of more than 30 people who paid $150 for a chance to get a photo with and an autograph from the rapper and a 40 percent discount during his hour-long private appearance at Mary Jane’s. About another 30 people who didn’t buy tickets lined up on the other side of the building behind a velvet rope, eagerly awaiting their chance to catch a glimpse of the star through his swarm of body guards as he made his way inside.

No one seemed fazed by the fact Snoop Dogg was about 30 minutes late. As soon as his black SUV pulled up front, the crowd went wild.

Snoop Dogg, who’s real name is Cordozar Calvin Broadus Jr., became a national celebrity after the release of his first album in 1993, during the gangster rap phase of what is considered hip hop’s golden era.

During his march to international celebrity, Snoop Dogg has steadily made music — currently he’s in the Pacific Northwest finishing a tour with fellow rapper Wiz Khalifa — but he’s since evolved into an aggressive entrepreneur and capitalized on his popular association with alcohol and marijuana.

“This is the industry I’m in,” Snoop Dogg said of his visit to the marijuana store. “It’s a part of what I do, you know. To be able to get up close and personal with the people who’ve been supporting me for many years and what I do … this is an up close and personal experience.”

Nicole Moore, regional manager for Mary Jane’s House of Glass, said the company’s employees are “cannabis lifestyle consultants” and credits Snoop Dogg as being one of the early pioneers of making marijuana acceptable to popular culture.

“I don’t know if we would have made it as far as we have without that,” she said.

In the roughly 15 years its been in business, a handful of other celebrities have paid homage to Mary Jane’s. Tommy Chong of the duo Cheech and Chong has made appearances at local stores. Willie Nelson and some of his band members have been known to wear the company’s shirts.

House of Grass is owned by Amy and Mark Elkins. The couple had a license for a marijuana store in Camas, but after unsuccessfully fighting with the city for two years, they moved their store to Vancouver about five months ago.

“It’s a dream come true I knew it would happen someday, but I can’t believe it happened in just five months,” Amy said of Snoop Dogg’s visit. Elkins “He’s an advocate and an icon. It just makes sense.”