After years of experience in the medical marijuana field, the principals of Green Tiki Cannabis near Kingston are happy to be back in business.
Green Tiki Cannabis, 8202 NE Highway 104, opened in January. They previously had a medical marijuana shop in Tacoma from 2009 to February 2016.
In July, the State of Washington did away with medical marijuana shops and combined medical and recreational marijuana sales. Recreational marijuana use was legalized by voters in the state in 2014.
“We had been in business for a long time and we had great customers,” Peter Carson said about the shop in Tacoma. “But recreational [marijuana] took the market.”
Carson is now the licensed medical marijuana consultant for Green Tiki, and he does all the buying. Christy Stanley is the owner of the shop and Bill Coughlin is “the numbers guy.” He has a vast background in business and has been a professor, worked in the medical field and worked in IT. They hoped to be licensed to retail cannabis in the first round, but that didn’t happen. However, last year Stanley got a license in the lottery system the state uses to issue marijuana retail licenses.
The trio’s goal is to operate an open and friendly marijuana retail store with expertise in how marijuana can be used for medical purposes.
“We’re just a normal pot shop with regular people coming in,” Coughlin said. “We want to be a part of this community.”
To that end, their store is very open, with glass windows from floor to ceiling so that anyone outside can see what’s inside. Products are in glass cases on one wall, with written detail about their uses.
“We want our customers to come in and read about what we sell, at their own speed,” Carson said. “When there’s a line at the counter, customers feel like they have to rush and they aren’t able to get all the information they need.”
The store has five employees. While all of them are knowledgable about all of the products the store sells, it’s Carson who really knows about medical marijuana.
He got into it to help people.
“In Tacoma, I had a 72-year-old woman come in,” he said. “She had lung cancer. She’d never smoked and she pretty much said she’d had a good life. But her friends convinced her to try marijuana. She did her CBD research and she came to see us.”
Carson helped her learn what dosage to use and adjusted it several times based on her needs.
“Two and a half years later, she came in one day and said she was free of cancer. When you see things like that it is very, very empowering.”
While Carson is critical of how the state merged medical marijuana retail with recreational cannabis, he still wants to help people. He’s seen customers use marijuana to help with anxiety, arthritis, cancer, depression, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder and seizures.
“The state has a registry for medical users,” he said. “Some people don’t want to be on that. But if you are registered, you can buy three times the legal [recreational] amount and you don’t pay sales tax. You can also grow 15 of your own plants, rather than six if you are not on the registry.”
But he said it’s not the government’s business to know who is using medical marijuana. In fact, the state estimates that 300,000 people in Washington use marijuana for medical purposes, but only 21,000 are on the registry. And, he said, there’s no registry for people who are taking pharmaceuticals.
Noting that there’s evidence that marijuana was used for pain relief during birth in ancient Egypt, Carson believes in its powers. When he counsels a new customer, he goes by a motto.
“Slow and low,” he said. “That’s where we begin with anyone who is trying medical marijuana for the first time. We use the lowest dosage and that gives us time to figure out whether and when to adjust the dosage.”
With the amount that is tried the first time, Carson said, there will be no psychoactive affect. He does recommend patients use it at night so they can experience the relaxation and the pain relief.
“See how you [relax] with 5 milligrams of CBD and a milligram of THC,” he said. “You will feel like you’re just getting out of a warm bath.”
He knows marijuana use is still stigmatized, although he sees it as better than having an alcoholic drink after work to relax.
“We’ve even helped people transition from alcohol and opioids to cannabis,” he said.
Carson said Green Tiki stands out from other stores because it has varieties of cannabis strains not found elsewhere. The location is convenient and the store is bright and airy. And staff members are good at educating people about pot.
Coughlin’s time in the cannabis business stems from having illness in his own family.
“My mother had a fungal infection and after many antibiotics, my father called me and asked if I could help my mom,” he said. “She had a friend with Stage 4 cancer who was eating brownies [infused with marijuana] and was getting better.
“At about the same time, my brother came home from a conference in Las Vegas where he met Christy and Pete and he said, ‘You gotta meet these people.’”
And that led to Green Tiki.
The store has been increasing in business since it opened in January. And Coughlin said they have a wide variety of customers.
“It ranges from police officers, politicians, the elderly and the retired,” he said. “It’s an amazing mix of people. We really love this community.”