Many flock to marijuana business opening in unincorporated Bothell

Bothell's Herbal Nation held its grand opening today.
— image credit: Sarah Kehoe, Bothell/Kenmore Reporter

A line of around 80 people stretched outside Herbal Nation, a marijuana retail store that opened its doors in unincorporated Bothell on Monday.

The new store, located at 19302 Bothell Everett Highway, is the first marijuana retail store in Bothell and the second store near Seattle to receive a license to sell marijuana. Owners celebrated with a grand opening ceremony at noon.

"There have been so many regulations and pit stops along the way," said Will Pearson, Herbal Nation employee. "We could have opened a few weeks ago, but we held off and took our time because we wanted to triple check everything, ensure we had all the products available we wanted and we want to be fully compliant with state and city regulations for our business."

Green advertising inflatables danced at the store’s entrance, a deejay spun classic rock and reggae beats with marijuana themes and employees brought water bottles to customers waiting outside. Prices for marijuana products ranged from about $17 to $25 per gram of marijuana before sales tax.

Massachusetts resident Jon Stafford stopped by the grand opening to express his support for marijuana businesses opening up around the United States.

"I think this is a great thing for any community," Stafford said. "I mean, there are liquor stores in communities and as long as marijuana businesses don't sell to minors and are not doing anything to harm the community, adults should be able to have that option and buy whatever they want."

The new business just outside of Mill Creek city limits is Snohomish County’s second recreational marijuana store. A number of other local recreational marijuana businesses are waiting for their licenses to be approved by the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

The Mill Creek City Council banned all marijuana businesses within city limits by unanimously passing an ordinance on May 27, 2014. The Mill Creek City Council was unsure of the unintended consequences of marijuana businesses, so in part the ordinance states, “With the land use impacts of allowing marijuana land uses largely unknown, it is not in the best interest of the city to allow marijuana businesses that could potentially disrupt the city's character and serve as a nuisance to city residents.”

Bothell City Council voted in favor of marijuana retail stores in the city. City of Bothell attorney Joe Beck said the city looks at marijuana applications with the same zoning rules they do for any other business.

"We haven't enacted or made any new changes specifically for marijuana businesses," he said. "We have reviewed five applications so far and none that we've seen are in a properly zoned station or if they are, they are constrained by the buffers established by Initiative 502."

Pearson said he was excited to finally get his business up and running.

"I have been a big supporter of I-502 from the beginning," he said. "Now, we are in a great position to provide services to people that voted for us."

The marijuana law, approved by voters in November 2012, does not specify whether the grow farms must be indoors, or if farmland could be plowed over and marijuana seeds planted. The only requirement is marijuana be grown in-state, in a secure location at least 1,000 feet from a school, park, transit center or child-care facility.

Other Washington State Liquor Control Board rules include an outlaw on home occupational marijuana businesses, a limit on retail advertisements to about 11-square feet, licenses will not be issued to people with extensive criminal backgrounds, marijuana may not be consumed on the premises and businesses must operate between 8 a.m. and 12 a.m. Stores and manufacturing offices need alarms, surveillance cameras and liability insurance, as well.

"We are expecting nothing but positive things from the community," Pearson said. "Many people have been dropping by in support of our business as we have been getting ready for the opening this week and we expect big crowds to continue coming in today until we close at midnight."

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