SUQUAMISH — Someday, proponents say, popping a mint into your mouth for a little boost from THC will be looked at no differently than pouring a cup of coffee for a caffeine jolt.
Need a little relaxer to help you get to sleep? You might have a hot cup of valerian root tea, cannabis infused, without drawing any more concern than someone enjoying a nightcap before turning in.
Agate Dreams, the area’s newest cannabis retail store, is not only generating new revenue for its parent company, Port Madison Enterprises, it’s changing the way a lot of detractors might look at cannabis.
Agate Dreams opened Dec. 8 at 15915 Highway 305, on the Suquamish Tribe’s reservation. It’s the second cannabis retail store owned by an indigenous nation in Washington; the first, owned by the Squaxin Island Tribe, opened in November. Suquamish and Squaxin signed compacts with the state Liquor and Cannabis Board to take advantage of rules developed by the state and the Department of Justice after Washington voters legalized recreational cannabis use.
Agate Dreams charges an excise tax equal to that charged by the state — 37 percent — in accordance with the compact, but like any government the Suquamish Tribe is free to set its own local sales tax rate. (Agate Dreams’ sales tax rate is the same as that in Kitsap County). All tax revenue collected by the Tribe stays with the Tribe to be used for essential government services. The Tribe is using the state/Justice Department rules for product tracking, security and other measures to keep the industry clean.
Forget stereotypes. Reggae music, not Cheech & Chong, plays low on the store’s sound system (actually, Tommy Chong has his own line of smoking accessories). It doesn’t matter if you’re a grayhead, you’re going to be carded (which actually is kind of cool when you’re over 50). The interior walls feature mural-size images of the old Kiana Lodge and of the Agate Pass Bridge under construction in 1950.
Employees, called “bud tenders,” answer shoppers’ questions. Manager Calvin Medina, a Suquamish Tribe member, said he and his staff can recommend a cannabis-based product in whatever form and THC content to fit what the customer is looking for.
More cannabis products are consumed by means other than smoking. Agate Dreams’ products run the gamut: chocolates, cookies and other edibles; decaffeinated teas and soft drinks (there’s a cannabis-infused hibiscus quencher); and sensual oils.
Medina said edibles provide a more relaxed effect; the effects of smoking cannabis are more immediate. Smokable products come with warning labels not unlike those on tobacco products.
Port Madison Enterprises CEO Russell Steele, looking natty in top coat and hat, said his research showed that the typical customer is female, age 45-60, and is looking for products for health reasons. At one store he visited during the research phase leading up to Agate Dreams, he was told of a female customer who relies on a cannabis-infused cream to help her overcome insomnia.
The store had a preview opening for Tribe members on Dec. 7 and opened to the general public on Dec. 8. On opening day, the stream of customers is steady and Steele is already talking about expansion plans; he said Agate Dreams will start packaging and marketing its own brand in February or March.
The recreational cannabis market is creating entrepreneurial opportunities. Dan MacDougall of Hansville, owner of the graphic design and branding company Malolo, predicts an emergence of craft producers, not unlike craft brewers, and that within five years half of the cannabis products on the market will come from craft producers. As he eyed the glass-blown water bongs and pipes in the display case — editorializing here, but some pieces are works of art — he’s asked if he foresees the emergence of a new artistic medium as well. His answer: It’s already happening.
He also predicts the cannabis industry will help in the development of green technology. Cannabis grown outdoors in sunny Eastern Washington is cheaper to grow and, therefore, is less expensive to consumers than cannabis grown in Western Washington, where it must be grown indoors. Growers are adopting LED lighting and other technologies to help cut energy consumption and reduce costs. (Steele said he visited an indoor grow operation in Tacoma; at 20,000 square feet, it uses 4 percent of all of Tacoma’s electricity.)
MacDougall, who is helping to market and brand Agate Dreams, predicts the store — one of only three in an 18-mile area — will thrive.
“The location is prime,” he said. “You don’t have to drive off the main drag. It’s right here.”
Agate Dreams opened Dec. 8 at 15915 Highway 305, on the Suquamish Tribe’s reservation. It’s the second cannabis retail store owned by an indigenous nation in Washington; the first, owned by the Squaxin Island Tribe, opened in November. Suquamish and Squaxin signed compacts with the state Liquor and Cannabis Board to take advantage of rules developed by the state and the Department of Justice. Photo credit: Richard Walker / Herald
Dan MacDougall of Hansville, owner of the graphic design and branding company Malolo, foresees the emergence of a new artistic medium — glass blowing — in the cannabis industry. Photo credit: Richard Walker / Herald