If you’re looking to score some weed in the San Juan Islands, legally, that is, don’t hold your breath.
It could take awhile.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t run into someone asking when I’m going to be ready, wanting to know when I’m going to open up,” said Theron Soderlund, owner of Orcas Island’s sole state-sanctioned marijuana retail establishment, Token Herb. “But to open up badly is worse than not opening up at all.”
While Token Herb holds the distinction of being the first-ever state-licensed pot shop in San Juan County – its business application was recently approved by the state Liquor Control Board – Soderlund said that maintaining consistent hours and keeping shelves stocked with a diversified, quality line of product would be difficult because access to legally grown marijuana remains problematic and in short supply in the islands and elsewhere.
At this point, he said that the marijuana business in Washington state is somewhat of a “cart before the horse” kind of thing.
On San Juan Island, retail pot-shop lottery winner Lawrence Industries is even further behind its Orcas Island counterpart. The company has yet to have its business license approved and is contemplating a change of address. The potential of relocation from 779 Mullis Street, the address on file in the company application with the state liquor board, creates a long list of business decisions, bureaucratic hurdles and possible zoning issues with which to contend, Jim Lawrence said.
“We’re looking over all our options and working on getting all our ducks in a row,” said Lawrence, who declined to speculate on an opening date. “It will happen but at this point it’s moving very slowly.”
In 2012, voters in San Juan County, 68 percent, joined their counterparts across the state in approving Initiative 502, which legalized the recreational use and sale of marijuana (to adults), and tasked the state liquor control board with creating a system by which to license retailers, growers and processors. The county has so far been allocated a total of three retail establishments, one each on San Juan, Orcas and Lopez islands. Three of 16 producer applications have been approved so far, all three on San Juan, and one of 11 local processor applications has been approved.
A 50-year veteran of the retail industry, the past 24 on Orcas, Soderlund said he has had discussions with potential suppliers both on the mainland and in the islands about a future inventory. His vision for Token Herb, located on Crescent Beach Drive, is to offer locally grown and diversified products, such as edibles, oils and vapors, in addition to various strains of more familiar forms of marijuana.
But until a reliable amount of inventory becomes available, he said a grand opening for the shop will have to wait.
“If things loosen up on the mainland we might be able to open around the end of the year or beginning of next,” he said.