It wasn't long ago that recreational cannabis was illegal in this state. Then came legalization. At first, a very poky bureaucratic process of approving licenses for retailers meant stores were few and far between. But now? Now Seattle rivals Amsterdam in terms of quality and convenience of cannabis stories. What stores are in your neighborhood? What makes each store unique? We sent Stranger reporters into every store in the city to have a look around, ask questions, and report back. We began in Sodo, the neighborhood where Seattle's first pot shop opened, but we also ventured into every other nook and cranny of the city, and even a few places just outside the city, like the Eastside. There is no other resource like this out there.
1728 Fourth Ave S, 206-223-3724, Mon–Sat 8 am–11:30 pm, Sun 9 am–10 pm
Dockside's Sodo shop is emblematic of the new direction in pot retailing brought on by legalization: big, open floor plans, lots of light, and classy decor. Dockside's got all that, and a cannabis museum to boot.
That's right: An entire corner of their store is devoted to the history and science of cannabis, including selections from the Wirtshafter collection, Ohio cannabis activist Don Wirtshafter's hoard of vintage cannabis medicine bottles. It sounds bland when I put it that way, but it's awesome, a fascinating physical reminder that pot used to be both legal and benign. Beyond the bottles, there is an overwhelming amount of information available for you to browse. I particularly enjoy the terpene scent jars, which afford you an opportunity to acquaint yourself with the various scent molecules present in cannabis (terpenes) before a budtender starts rattling them off when you're trying to buy pot. Limonene is easy to figure out (it smells like citrus, duh!), but ask me what linalool smells like and I'm lost.
When it comes to budtenders, Dockside has some heavy hitters. Chelsea Cebara, for example, is our city's resident expert on the intersection of cannabis and sex. She gives semi-regular presentations at Babeland, helping those who have yet to experience the magic of a sex-friendly strain or a bottle of weed lube to figure that whole thing out.
As for strains, Dockside definitely has some that are good for boning, and probably just about everything else. Their menu is a book, and it's thick. They're also convenient to transit, being a five-minute jaunt from the Stadium light rail station. TOBIAS COUGHLIN-BOGUE
1944 First Ave S, 206-457-4359, Mon–Thu 9:30 am–10 pm, Fri–Sat 9:30 am–11 pm, Sun 10 am–7 pm
A friend of mine told me Vela is "the Apple store of pot shops," and I didn't believe him, so I went down to First Avenue South myself, and oh my god, he was right: Vela is the Apple store of pot shops. I'd never been inside a pot shop like this. There are windows within the retail space onto an actual grow op. That's right, you can watch weed grow while you're shopping for weed. State law mandates that retailers and growers be separate companies, but there's no law preventing retailers and growers from occupying the same building and installing a window between their operations.
The growers whose plants you can see through the window are called Field Day. When I stopped by the other day, the plants on view were five weeks into their flower stage. I figured the Vela budtender wouldn't know what strain Field Day was growing, but he did: Galactic Jack, a sativa-dominant hybrid that's a cross between Jack Herer and Space Queen. The producer-processor Sun Cliff is also in the building. Wander down the hallway and you can watch men and women in lab coats distilling concentrate and making pre-rolled joints with the assistance of a machine called the Doobatron 3000.
As for the Vela sales floor, the most prominent features are the marble-topped island in the middle of everything ("Isn't that dope?"), and a colored spectrum along one wall. They call this "the Vela spectrum," and the four stages of the spectrum, left to right, are "Hush," "Unwind," "Flourish," and "Ignite." Every product in the store falls somewhere along the spectrum, as indicated by little placards. If you're more of an electronic learner, grab an iPad, tell it where on the spectrum you'd like to be, and it will tell you everything in the store that applies to that state. "Looking at all the product can be kind of overwhelming," budtender Joe Craycraft said as he showed me how to navigate the iPad. "This can simplify things."
Bonus: Jimmy John's is right next door, and next door to that? Krispy Kreme. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
2733 Fourth Ave S, 206-682-1332, daily 8 am–11 pm
Ah, Cannabis City, Seattle's first pot shop. Or, as they've dubbed themselves, "the pot shop heard around the world." Their first day saw a frenzy of news crews, huge crowds, incredulous baby boomers buying their first-ever legal bag, and even Seattle city attorney Pete Holmes. Holmes grabbed two bags, one to enjoy at some appropriate juncture (he still won't comment on the fate of that bag) and one for "posterity."
The posterity bag, he told me recently, was slated to go in a time capsule, but because children were going to be participating in filling the time capsule, that idea was scrapped. Presumably it's still in his sock drawer.
Anyway, Cannabis City is still doing the thing they did on day one of Washington's legal cannabis experiment: selling weed. And they're still doing a good job of it. Dr. James Lathrop, the shop's owner, is whip-crack smart when it comes to cannabis. He's a doctor of nursing practice, and I'd argue that he's more knowledgeable about pot and its various medicinal applications than a traditional allopathic practitioner.
Also exciting: Lathrop says he's near completion on a pretty groovy remodel. The building's front will be covered with dichroic film, which reflects light in a manner similar to oil. Multicolored LEDs will be mounted on the edge of the roof, green awnings will be installed, and the whole building will basically turn into the type of trippy screen saver display that stoners have been zoning out on for decades. As for the interior, it's also getting a makeover, and there is, of course, plenty of good pot in there. It's "Seattle's best value," claims Lathrop, in terms of quality for price. He also notes that they have more than 100 varieties of pre-roll and are a mere one block from the Sodo light rail station. TOBIAS COUGHLIN-BOGUE
3207 First Ave S, 206-682-7220, Mon–Sat 8:30 am–11 pm, Sun 10 am–9 pm
Ganja Goddess, which was among the first wave of Sodo "Green Light District" shops, is also one of the first women-owned pot businesses. Shortly after legalization they opened, fittingly, in a former cigar shop next to Sodo's iconic KR Trigger Building. Before Women Grow was a thing (google it), Ganja Goddess was loudly championing the idea that, as far as cannabusiness was concerned, a woman's place is in the boardroom, making the decisions.
They've got a pretty broad selection and some super friendly budtenders. Ananda Green, their store manager, is one of the sunniest humans you'll ever meet, and her unfailingly positive attitude radiates down to her staff. The store isn't enormous, but they make the best of their space, organizing a horseshoe of glass cases into clear, easily understandable sections.
The New York Times style magazine T praised Ganja Goddess as a haven for "Rastafarian guys with dreadlocks, college students, guys in suits, a winemaker, everybody." Although the trend toward age and occupational diversity among pot buyers is a natural byproduct of legalization, Ganja Goddess is definitely doing its part to bring the joys of weed to previously wary populations.
And while they're not exactly fighting the price war, they do have sub-$10 grams, and $21 eighths of shake for the penny pinchers. They're also relatively convenient for the light-rail-riding pot seekers, as they offer shuttle service to and from the Sodo light rail station in their bright yellow "CannaBus." Call ahead for pickup.
Oh yeah, and they occasionally organize cannabis-friendly yoga classes. If they're doing one, go. It sounds doofy, but it's actually the perfect antidote to the incessantly stressful world we live in. TOBIAS COUGHLIN-BOGUE
3405 Fourth Ave S, 206-420-8380, daily 10 am–10 pm
District 420, despite having been open for several months now, is something of a new kid on the block in Sodo. Their main publicity effort has been to install red, gold, and green skirting around the roof's edge. The store is in a former mini-mart space next to the Siren Tavern, and is clearly not competing for the same Vegas baller market as Diego Pellicer, another pot shop that opened recently in the neighborhood. Instead, they're happy to supply the Siren's "really cool, blue-collar, nine-to-five working men," says Shye, a manager.
She jokes that they're a "little country mouse" in the big city, noting that they have a sister store in Buckley. Reasons to visit include "awesome dab prices, great prices on ounces, friendly staff, and medical certification," Skye says. They're also within striking distance of plenty of entertainment. If the Siren's darts, pool, and cheap beer aren't your thing, District 420 is a mere three blocks from the Orient Express, that amalgamation of old train cars that forms a Chinese restaurant/karaoke joint. As Bush Garden has proven so well, that's a very winning combination. Not to be slept on: proximity to the new Pick-Quick drive-in. Blue Dream and a Butterfinger shake is definitely a winning combo. TOBIAS COUGHLIN-BOGUE
2215 Fourth Ave S, 206-624-0070, daily 9 am–10 pm
If Donald Trump opened a weed shop, it would look like this. From the outside, it looks like a nightclub in Palm Springs. There are palm trees in urns on either side of the entrance, and some of the Greco-Roman figures on the urns are fully naked.
Just inside, you see a statue of the Roman goddess Voluptas, with a candelabra on her head. Ferns, orchids, custom-built cabinets, elaborate tile work, and six floor-to-ceiling columns complete the look. I actually said aloud, "If Donald Trump owned a weed shop, it would look like this," and the friendly woman checking IDs said, teasingly, "Get out! Get out!" But the co-owner of the store, Alejandro Canto, was standing nearby, and he said, "Honestly, I take it as a compliment. I used to like Trump."
Since this store is clearly trying to be a weed store for the 1 percent, I asked Canto to show me their most luxurious products. He showed me a cigar made by Gold Leaf that costs $420 and contains 12 grams of flower and 4 grams of rosin oil. It's rolled in marijuana fan leaves, it smokes like a cigar, and it lasts for four to six hours. "One of the smoothest things I've ever smoked on," he said. A $400 cigar may seem a bit rich, but that was nothing. Canto pulled out a wooden box, lifted the lid, and showed me an even bigger cigar, also made by Gold Leaf, that costs $3,600. "The cool thing about this cigar is they're one of a kind. This is for the consumer that wants to have an item that no one else has." It contains 21 grams of flower and 7 grams of rosin oil. "It's a very, very unique item," he said. "This is a memory that lasts forever." CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
3230 First Ave S, 206-294-5839, Mon–Sat 10 am–11 pm, Sun 10 am–7 pm
Seattle Cannabis Co. is directly next to Sodo Deli, which is a huge mark in its favor. Placing a pot shop next to one of the city's best Reubens is a smart move. This weed shop is also in the same building as Studio 7, home to some of the city's finest metal shows (and the occasional Andre Nickatina visit!).
What sets them apart from every other pot shop out there? I called and asked.
Andre Emil, a "host" who does a little bit of everything, told me that it's their customer service. Now, every pot shop everywhere will tell you that, but Seattle Cannabis Co. did actually win Best Staff at DOPE Magazine's 2015 Industry Awards.
"That's what we try to do here, be the best budtenders and people we can," he told me. He was also well-informed on the intricacies of new medical cannabis laws, which isn't something I can say for the average budtender. Though he wasn't a certified MMJ consultant (there's always a manager on duty who is), the store is medically endorsed, and he added that they pride themselves on serving patients frustrated by their experience at other retail stores.
"Even the angriest customer leaves happy," he said. TOBIAS COUGHLIN-BOGUE
DOWNTOWN & QUEEN ANNE
55 Bell St, 206-849-5596, daily 8 am–11:45 pm
This is the pot shop that Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott famously visited, landing him in hot, hot water with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. It's not hard to see why he swung through, though. He claimed that he was "curious," and indeed, the store is intriguing. While every cannabis store these days has tons of wood paneling, Herban Legends has some extra awesome stain going on, as well as some psychedelic chandeliers and a pretty wild mural by local artist Ten Hundred. The store's avowed mission is to "provide the coolest pot experience that anyone will ever have anywhere while being active in our local community and supporting local artists and musicians." Admirable.
Also, they're on that leading edge of dropping prices, with $6 grams and cheap pre-rolls.
My friend who lives kitty-corner to them also offered this glowing endorsement: "One of the employees suffers from a seizure disorder, and when I asked him what a good CBD [strain] for pain was, he told me what he used to help with his seizures. I thought that was extremely personal and good help for someone who was asking about a certain product." TOBIAS COUGHLIN-BOGUE
115 Blanchard St, 206-588-2436, daily 8 am–11:45 pm
What makes this outpost of Have a Heart different from the others in Greenwood and Fremont? A lot, actually. For one, patrons are greeted with an enormous, LED-lit joint sculpture upon entering, as well as a chandelier with a quarter pound of Grandaddy Kush encased in glass. If that's not enough to awe you, there's the 50-foot "Wall of Weed." It's something of a flagship project for the mini-empire, and it "really encompasses the downtown feel," according to BJ Jordan, Have a Heart's marketing coordinator. This place has a clubby, arty feel and hip kids on staff.
They're quite popular with tourists, Jordan adds, noting that they stock the heck out of edibles and pre-rolls, which are more popular with the "60-year-old mom from Georgia" set. His favorite thing about the Belltown location? Ease of access to good art (Seattle Art Museum, Olympic Sculpture Park) and good hot dogs (Pike Place's Taxi Dogs or Belltown's Shorty's). He stressed that proximity to Pike Place as a selling point, and I'm inclined to agree. Nothing beats smoking a pre-roll in Victor Steinbrueck Park (just don't let cops see you), watching the ferries roll in for a bit, and then noshing your way through the market's vast array of edible offerings. TOBIAS COUGHLIN-BOGUE
312 W Republican St, 206-420-1042, Sun–Thu 10 am–10 pm, Fri–Sat 10 am–11 pm
This is one of the only weed shops on Queen Anne. It's in a handsome brick building on a quiet residential street, and it's also the closest weed shop to Seattle Center, KEXP, KeyArena, the opera, and On the Boards. A budtender named Addison Tice told me the other day that during a recent DOTA 2 eSports tournament at Seattle Center, "we were doing gangbusters," with sometimes 30 gamers at once crowding into the store during breaks between competitions.
The interior of the store is full-on lumberjack, with wooden bins, wooden cabinets, tree-bark shelving, and products displayed on cross-sections of tree trunks under the glass.
"We always have dog treats on hand," added Kassandra Ruiz, a manager.
As for human treats, Addison recommended pre-rolled joints by Bella Donna, a farm in Spokane, because they have 1.3 grams inside instead of the typical 1 gram. As for edibles, he suggested the blondies from Green Light Baked Goods, made not far away in Green Lake. (He added: "They also make vegan edibles.") As for flower, he recommended Soulshine, which is "quickly becoming my favorite brand. One of the cleanest smokes I've ever had. They also donate some of their profits to Emerald City Pet Rescue."
Queen Anne Cannabis Co. has a daily happy hour from noon to 3 p.m., during which you get 15 percent off on select items. On Mondays, the select item is pre-rolled joints; on Tuesdays, flower; on Wednesdays, concentrates; on Thursdays, edibles. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
1628 Dexter Ave N, 206-402-6012, Mon–Thu 10 am–10 pm, Fri–Sat 10 am–11 pm, Sun 11 am–9 pm
Located in a red-and-tan brick building with ivy growing up the side, this place used to be a bar. Before it became a weed shop, the owners ripped out the carpet and replaced it with hardwood. They left a mirrored wall unit (maybe it used to be part of the bar?), but now above the mirror are the words "Dabs and Vapes." Other sections include "Edibles" and "Flower."
The manager, Pablo Smith, was behind the counter wearing a T-shirt that said: "I WANNA GET HIGH. LET'S GO HIKING." I asked him what kind of flower he likes to bring along for a day of hiking. He pointed to a dark-pink bag containing a strain called Dutchberry, made by Artizen. "Nice flower, nice taste, really consistent," he said. A delivery arrived while we were talking, and while he signed for it, I perused a robust selection of tinctures, mints, candies, brownies, tea, fruit chews—you name it. There were also small glass pipes for $5 in a jar on the counter.
Smith mentioned that the store used to be in Fremont, but they were too cramped there. "We can carry more things here," he said. They've been so busy they had to hire more staff. The bar that used to be here, Dexter and Hayes, was two stories tall. Pot Shop is only one story, but soon a new bar is opening up downstairs, called Toledo. Expect this building to become a destination, especially since Dexter's bike lane is right out front. There are no other weed stores on this side of Queen Anne, in the Westlake neighborhood, two blocks up from Lake Union. Note to self: Next time I fly in a Kenmore Air seaplane, hike up the hill two blocks to give Pot Shop a visit. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
CAPITOL HILL & CENTRAL DISTRICT
1465 E Republican St, 206-257-4805, daily 8 am–11:45 pm
From December 2015 to October 2016, Ruckus was the only weed store on Capitol Hill. The space is tiny, but the aesthetics are on point: walls filled with paintings, drawings, old-timey portraits, and collage art, plus cabinets stocked with curios sure to delight and beguile. The cannabis products are in two countertop glass cabinets that look like they used to hold rare butterfly specimens.
The space feels almost like a closet filled with magic. But they have everything you need. As a Capitol Hill resident, the store has been my trusted go-to since they opened last year. Not only is it convenient to all the stores and restaurants on 15th Avenue (and right next to El Farol Mexican restaurant), and not only do they have a nice range of products and price points, there's always good music playing and the staff is warm and unpretentious, often wearing plaid, unlike the uniforms you find at some other stores.
Budtender Cole Vreeland told me the other day that what makes Ruckus distinctive is "we're very discreet, unlike some competitors." He was looking at the new Uncle Ike's right across the street. He called Ruckus "a small shop" for "local folks." He added, "We all live right nearby. I also work at Victrola Coffee," he said, referring to the coffee shop around the corner. "She also works at Remedy Tea," he said, pointing to his coworker.
He said all the growers they stock have been "personally vetted" by representatives of the store. And he said, "We like to feature quality bud at discount prices. We don't do cheap for the sake of cheap." As for all the art and curios? Where did all that come from? "It just sort of happened," he said. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
501 15th Ave E, 800-438-3784, daily 8 am–11:45 pm
The latest branch of Uncle Ike's pot empire is in a brand-new, blue-gray corrugated building next to Hopvine on 15th Avenue East. "Uncle Ike's" is written out in neon lettering on both sides of the store, and once you're inside, you see, in even larger neon lettering, the words "I LIKE IKE."
In the vestibule where you show your ID, there's an old-fashioned candy dispenser that dispenses Uncle Ike's branded rolling papers for free. "We definitely went all out," said manager Kenji Hobbs about the build-out. He said, "Even though we have a perception of being an in-and-out, get-something-quick-and-leave kind of store, at our core we emphasize really intense knowledge and one-and-one customer interaction. We want to offer prices no one else can offer, and selection. We don't run out of cheap pot; we always have it. We have boutique items, and we have stuff for casual smokers."
As for their boutique offerings, he recommended the indica-dominant Sherbet, made by Royal Tree Gardens, "a really popular strain for us" that you can get only at Uncle Ike's. "Kind of like a nice bottle of whiskey, it's really refined," he said. "The bud itself is delicate. It has a silvery purple color that's really appealing. And it has a smell like a sweet berry cake. It doesn't smell like weed to me. It smells like cake." Two grams go for $36; an eighth goes for $64. "When people come from out of town, we tell them: Don't miss out on this. You can take a picture of it, put it on your Instagram, and really impress people." CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
2310 E Union St, 844-420-4537, daily 8 am–11:45 pm
The Original Uncle Ike's is about the size of a Subway, yet it gets an absurd amount of attention, from customers and haters alike. The customers bring in cash—a lot of it. Uncle Ike's on 23rd sells almost twice as much product every month as its closest competitor in Seattle. Since it opened in 2014, the pot shop has sold more than $27 million worth of goods, according to 502data.com. No other Seattle store has even cleared $10 million yet.
And the haters? They do what they do best. Uncle Ike's has been the scene of multiple protest marches, where activists claim Uncle Ike's is responsible for gentrifying the Central District and profiting from a system that gives white guys millions while people of color sit in jail for selling the same product. (It's true that there's historical cannabis injustice when it comes to marijuana policy—injustice that has disproportionally affected people of color—but it's a stretch to blame Uncle Ike's over, say, the DEA.) Meanwhile, others in the industry complain that the store's bottom-shelf buds are inferior, or that Ian Karl Eisenberg, who owns Uncle Ike's, uses aggressive tactics to take down his competitors.
I can't speak to those issues, but I can tell you that I shop at Uncle Ike's because they have a ridiculous selection of products at amazing prices. Walk in and you'll see walls covered with more than a hundred strains of flower and dozens of edibles and concentrates that are probably selling for as cheap as you can find them. You can always choose between five or six strains that are selling for less than $7 gram or $20 an eighth. There's often a line stretching out the door, but the half-dozen budtenders inside are instructed to sell efficiently, so the line always moves fast. LESTER BLACK
2413 E Union St, 206-420-2180, daily 10 am–11:45 pm
Ponder is a tiny little store nestled behind Uncle Ike's. Obviously, Ponder lives or dies on its ability to differentiate itself from Ike's, which isn't actually that hard. Ike's does an amazing job of selling a crazy volume of crazy cheap pot. Ponder goes for the more premium niche. To that end, they make an effort to stock Clean Green–certified cannabis at every price point. Last I checked, they were even offering Clean Green–certified grams at $7 a pop.
How do they offer that all-but-organic pot at that price? Well, as erstwhile general manager Lauren Downes put it to me this spring, they simply pay more at wholesale.
"I won't turn a vendor away based on their asking price," she said. "Quality is more important. To a vendor, there is a point where you can't negotiate below your cost of production because you will just be putting yourself out of business." If you're a health-conscious cannabis consumer (and you really should be), Ponder's gonna be well worth the extra two-block walk down Union.
Also, the one thing they do have in common with Ike's is that they're both within striking distance of a shitload of delicious things to consume, from Ezell's fried chicken to the perfectly light fish tacos at the truck on 20th and Union to the multitude of esoteric beers at Chuck's Hop Shop. Not a bad neighborhood to get geeked in. TOBIAS COUGHLIN-BOGUE
708 Rainier Ave S, 206-618-7133, Mon–Sat 10 am–10 pm, Sun10 am–8 pm
The Green Door is located in that no-man's-land stretch of Rainier between the International District, the Central District, Beacon Hill, and Rainier Valley. Like its name suggests, this pot shop (on the busy corner of Rainier Avenue and Dearborn Street) really does have a green door. It also has a green wall of Astroturf inside, where black leather couches and black-trimmed display cabinets give this place a suburban sports bar vibe.
And they're right next to one of Seattle's best places to be stoned—the Dearborn Goodwill!
There's some disagreement about what to call the small neighborhood the Green Door is in—Google calls it Atlantic, the city calls it Jackson Place—but there's no disagreement among property developers over this area's potential. Shiny new mixed-use buildings are popping up all over. A developer has bought the building the Green Door is in and has a permit awaiting approval by the city to raze the whole block and replace it with 129 apartments and 8,000 square feet of retail space. Staff at the Green Door didn't tell me what the shop's plans are if the seven-story development is approved. LESTER BLACK
FREMONT & WALLINGFORD
4465 Fremont Ave N, 206-883-0573, Mon–Thu 10 am–10 pm, Fri–Sat 10 am–11 pm, Sun 10 am–8 pm
Pot Stop, which opened this last 4/20, was one of the few existing medical marijuana retailers in Seattle to secure a recreational cannabis license. Though they're no longer selling pot exclusively to patients, their wealth of knowledge didn't disappear overnight, and they're a great option for medically minded cannabis consumers.
As Jeremy Lange, their store manager, puts it, "We're just trying to do everything we can to make patients as comfortable as they can be. All of our employees are medical marijuana employees from our past business, so we still have that empathy and knowledge and understanding that people are looking for." Though current state law is pretty tight in regards to dispensing medical advice on cannabis, and medically appropriate products are notoriously scarce right now, they're still making their best effort to have quality medicine on hand, and they still know a thing or two about what one might smoke to assuage back pain.
They're located, funnily enough, down the block from Seattle City Council member Mike O'Brien's house, and are apparently on quite good terms with him and the other neighbors. When the shop first moved into the neighborhood, O'Brien and other neighbors were wary, Lange said, but the shop went out of its way to win them over. So, in addition to being a great neighborhood pot shop, they're a small part of the reason that our city council is so cannabis-friendly.
I'm also a huge fan of their green-and-white vintage VW bus parked outside, and their proximity to Vif wine | coffee, which is a great place to go if you get the munchies. TOBIAS COUGHLIN-BOGUE
316 N 36th St, 206-632-7126, Sun–Mon 9 am–10 pm, Tue–Sat 9 am–11:45 pm
Have a Heart's Fremont location offers the same selection and service you'd expect at any of the chain's other locations. But this location is a favorite. The store is clean and inviting, the staff is universally pleasant, and they're extremely convenient to a number of stoner-friendly things.
To wit, they're right across the street from Piece of Mind, which has two stoner must-haves: an amazing selection of smoking devices and a parking lot taco truck. In the neighborhood, you've also got a ton of good venues (remember that awesome Raekwon show at Nectar?) and a ton of good places to eat and drink. There's Brouwer's Cafe, where you can get great sour beer and dressed Belgian frites; El Camino, home to a mezcal Bloody Maria so good I would (and did!) drink it in the evening; and Revel/Quoin, where you can get Rachel Yang's amazing, upscale Korean food. Perhaps most importantly, it's next door to a true stoner necessity: a well-stocked 7-Eleven. Grape blunt wraps and a Slurpee, anyone? TOBIAS COUGHLIN-BOGUE
3540 Stone Way N, 206-946-8157, Sun–Wed 10 am–10 pm, Thu–Sat 10 am–11 pm
Hashtag is in a plum-colored building in the middle of the main trek of Stone Way. For some reason—because they didn't ask me—it's called Hashtag and not Stoned on Stone. COME ON, PEOPLE!
Naming blunder aside, Hashtag is arguably the best recreational cannabis shop north of the Ship Canal. This Fremont gem is the place to go if you're an eco-conscious stoner. As some budtenders will happily tell you, Hashtag's buyers (hi, Emma!) seek out opportunities to limit the number of products they sell that are wrapped in Mylar packaging. Unlike glass jars and tubs, those plasticky packages cannot be recycled and instead end up in landfills. Hashtag gets major points in my book for trying to limit their carbon footprint. They also have a lot of product on offer, ranging from premium spliffs and blueberry-flavored vape pens to cannabis-infused tomato soup mixes.
However, their budtenders really won my heart when I saw how willing they were to talk with people who used prescription anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants. It wasn't a matter of blindly pointing at a strain in Hashtag's endless menu; it was taking the time to personalize a selection that worked for each customer. For anxious messes like me, a budtender named Dustin recommended his top pick: Quincy Green's Tinkerbell's Revenge sativa. And man, did that do the trick. ANA SOFIA KNAUF
3831 Stone Way N, 206-251-0630, Mon–Wed 10 am–10 pm, Thu–Sat 10 am–11 pm, Sun 10 am–9 pm
People just call it "Oz," but the completely pleasing, attractive, and well-designed pot shop in Fremont is actually called Oz., standing for "ounce." Sort of. The lovely storeowners tried to name it just Oz, as in The Wizard of, but were told by authorities that the association would be too much of a lure for innocent children.
They did keep the Yellow Brick Road in their logo.
Oz. is pretty great, whatever you call it. It feels a little like the Babeland of pot shops. You know, like a fun, actually boutique retail store, where the displays are prepared with care by somebody with a design background, rather than a dank place recently vacated by a dude in a robe and his lizard.
There's lots of pretty, sparkly equipment, from aerospace grinders to a mini jet torch (it looks something like a beautiful weapon) to monkey pipes to little glass elephant pipes ($13!). There are super-refined bongs that remind me of beakers, along with the usual bulby/spotty '70s bongs.
Rather than a diner-style plastic menu, all the varieties of oils, joints, flower, and what-have-you are listed in color-coded rows of clipboards covering on the walls like a large-scale marijuana periodic table. Science! On each of the clipboards, there's a full description of the product, from effects (Sour Tsunami brings on the "relaxed, happy, uplifting, sleepy" times) to THC content (which the owners would like to remind you does not really mean that much in terms of affecting your experience, and is no way to go about buying your pot). The periodic table is good reading. Oz. is a store for readers. It's also next to an Episcopal bookstore—"An independent, ecumenical place!"—where you may find such also-relaxing/uplifting titles as When a Lie Is Not a Sin. It is not a sin, for instance, to pretend that Oz. is wizardy. JEN GRAVES
321 NE 45th St, 206-547-7833, Mon-Wed 11 am-9 pm; Thurs-Sat 11 am-10 pm; Sun 11 am-8 pm
American Mary has a lot of good things going for them. They’re conveniently located near Dick’s Drive-In, a stoner’s best friend, along with all the other stoner-friendly food options of the 45th corridor (from Rancho Bravo’s northern outpost to a new Ezell’s to the superb Fainting Goat Gelato to Issian with its tiny octopus skewers). For brain stimulation, American Mary is next door to the Comics Dungeon and two blocks down from Open Books (one of the only poetry-only bookstores in the United States). It’s also a walkable distance from Archie McPhee.
As for the shop itself, they pack a surprising amount of pot into a relatively small space. It’s a single square room, with the counters arranged in a broad horseshoe. The menu is expansive, spanning a variety of producers and price points. They’ve certainly got $5 pre-rolls if you just wanna burn one in the parking lot before you mow through a Deluxe and two orders of fries. As for the staff, they’re quite pleasant: I was greeted promptly upon entering by Brian Reiger, the floor manager, who told me their goal is to be “a regular’s favorite spot.” Like a good bartender, he’ll spot one of his regulars, hand them their preferred product, and never break eye contact with the customer he’s currently helping. TOBIAS COUGHLIN-BOGUE
GREENWOOD & PHINNEY RIDGE
417 NW 65th St, 206-402-5697, Tue–Thu 11 am–9 pm, Fri–Sat 11 am–10 pm, Sun 11 am–7 pm
Everyone should take their canna-curious mom to the Partakery. The pocket-size store at the intersection of Ballard and Phinney Ridge sits unassumingly within a cluster of small bars, restaurants, and tattoo shops. Seriously, from the outside, this place could be mistaken for a tiny tea parlor.
Who visits this shop most often? "Because of where we're located, our clientele tends to be a bit older. We have a lot of people coming back to cannabis—retirees, people who couldn't smoke because of work," says Andy Johnson, who co-owns the shop.
Inside, you'll find what may be the best edibles selection north of the Ship Canal. They have your standard cannabis-infused mints ($35) and cookies ($10–$40), but what really caught my eye were Cannabis Elixirs' weedy dried fruit slices, which are available in cinnamon apple, pink grapefruit, and a mix of lime, orange, and lemon ($11). The Partakery also offers up your standard variety of flower, glass pieces, and vape pens, too.
If you're on foot (and sneaky) and you take a smoke (or snack) break outside, you have some options for how you can spend the rest of your stoned evening: (1) If your munchies kick in, go to Stock for duck sandwiches or congee. (2) If you're not a hot mess when you're crossfaded, spend the night drinking with friends at the Tin Hat or Molly Maguires. (3) If you want to kill two hours being fascinated by trinkets and strange style choices, walk a couple blocks to peruse the aisles of the Ballard Goodwill. Whatever you choose, you can't go wrong. ANA SOFIA KNAUF
300 NW 85th St, 206-708-7443, daily 8 am–11:45 pm
Have a Heart kind of looks like an auto repair shop from the outside, thanks to its green-and-white-checkered building. Once you're inside, though, it's a different story. This rec store immediately reminded me of a clean Las Vegas casino, with its blindingly bright lights lining squeaky-clean glass displays and TV menus mounted into the wall.
Of the recreational stores I visited in Greenwood, Have a Heart was by far the most packed. During the half hour I spent perusing the shop, a cast of characters waltzed through the door: a punky skateboarder who came in for a Blue Dream pre-roll ($10–$12), a dad with salt-and-pepper hair examining pipes, and a quiet grandmother in a fur coat who squinted at a case of edibles.
The budtenders were friendly, possibly even overeager. One with a triple eyebrow piercing chatted at length about her favorite Green Labs truffles ($6–$35), which include pumpkin spice and apple crisp pie. "The 10 [milligram] can knock you down," she told me. When prompted, another budtender eagerly explained to me how dabbing works. All the while, a redheaded woman swiped a feather duster across the already immaculately clean counter.
If you want to feel taken care of or need someone to hold your hand as you figure out which strain to try today, this is the place to go. ANA SOFIA KNAUF
10532 Greenwood Ave N, 206-257-4407, Mon–Thu 9 am–10 pm, Fri–Sat 9 am –11:45 pm, Sun 10 am–9 pm
This northern Greenwood joint has the cutest damn name. They also have the best indoor artwork of any of the shops I've visited. Upon walking in, one's eye is automatically drawn to Trees' chalk mural, which depicts Seattle's skyline and the Fremont Troll and Pink Elephant Car Wash sign both smoking blunts. The kitsch makes the space a bit warmer, and I have to give them points for creativity.
The shop's menu, like so many other stores, is massive. Glass cases lining the walls display a variety of topical ointments including muscle melts ($22 for 2 oz.) and lotions ($45), edibles ($5–$48) ranging from standard truffles to Pot Shotz infused sugar packets ($35), and bulk jars of cannabis that would give any casual smoker pause. Budtenders were attentive and eager to answer questions about products or even frustrating state-mandated packaging laws.
When I ask one of the budtenders behind the counter to show me a unique product they carry, she pulls a packet of six pre-rolled joints from a display in the corner. "These are like Kit Kats," she tells me, laughing. "My neighbor mows my lawn, I give 'em one of these." Each joint is packaged separately, with perforations in the cardboard between them. "They're like party favors!" ANA SOFIA KNAUF
315 N 105th St, 206-492-5132, daily 9 am–11 pm
Not going to lie, this place is kind of bro-tastic. Or at least it felt that way when I walked in the other day and there was a football game playing on the TV behind the counter. The budtender looked like he might be a skater. He wasn't watching the game. But if you've always wanted a place where you can watch the game while buying your weed, well, look no further.
You may know the place from their backlit marquee outside, which lights up the night for a quarter-block around the store. This block is home to the North End's best pupusas (Tiko Riko) and grease bomb Chinese food (the Rickshaw). Inside, the main counter showcases colorful glass-blown pipes, shiny grinders, and vape pen pieces. Other counters featured shelves of concentrates, waxes, shatter, cannabis-infused hard candies, and packaged bags of shake. (Before visiting Greenworks, I had only ever seen bags of shake in definitely-not-legal gallon-sized Ziploc containers.)
Suprisingly, going against the sporty vibe, Greenworks offers something I'd never seen before: consultations with the shop's medical marijuana counselor. The consultant is available Thursdays and Fridays to talk with former green card patients still navigating the recreational cannabis system. Their willingness to work with the customers who need it the most is impressive. ANA SOFIA KNAUF
4912 17th Ave NW, 206-294-5586, Sun–Wed 9 am–10 pm, Thu–Sat 9 am–11:45 pm
Stash unofficially bills itself as the "Nordstrom of pot shops." Officially, their tagline is "Community. Culture. Cannabis." Their store is objectively gorgeous, and the service is definitely Nordstrom-esque. The budtenders, many of whom are transplants from more traditional service-industry jobs, all seem genuinely happy to be here, and genuinely excited about pot.
I'm not sure if employees are banned from leaning on things (as they are at Nordstrom), and I'm quite sure they can't legally accept returns (as Nordstrom very famously does), but it's a deluxe experience regardless. You're sure to enjoy, as their website promises, "an elegant, welcoming environment to purchase the finest quality cannabis products."
Stash is also quite convenient to many of Ballard's cultural and culinary activities. If you were looking to, say, smoke an ultra-heady sativa and go out for some of Renee Erickson's thought-provoking food, Stash is a mere three blocks from the Walrus and the Carpenter. For an even more mentally stimulating experience, you can pop over to Cafe Mox/Card Kingdom, two businesses that exist in symbiosis. You can enjoy Mox's lovely Northwest cafe fare and local beer all while settling the shit out of Catan or getting betrayed at the House on the Hill, thanks to Card Kingdom's generous game library. TOBIAS COUGHLIN-BOGUE
716 NW 65th St, 206-557-7388, Sun–Thu 9 am–10 pm, Fri–Sat 9 am–11 pm
At Herbs House, "we have everything, and we have a lot of everything," one of the friendly guys behind the counter tells me. He also lets me know the place recently got a little bit of a face-lift, and he points up to the high walls above the cash registers. There's a mural, by local artist Joshua Boulet, of a big red dragon getting high. Near him, a sweet Sasquatch fingers a fat joint. Yeah.
Herbs House is in a house. It's informal, comfortable. It has a fireplace (without fire), and a great big mirror above the mantel where a black sign advertises the daily specials in neon marker. (Herbs House is across the street from the Ballard Goodwill, and I cannot decide whether it would be better to get stoned before going to this epic Goodwill, or after.) Before pot was legalized, Herbs House was medicinal-only. In 2015 it became the full-service recreational store it is now. On a Thursday afternoon, there was a (fast-moving) line.
The menu is a flip-book of neonish-green pages (think the color of Martians) that's extensive. It's a lot like a menu in a roadside restaurant that's got every dish you could want. Here, there are pot chocolates and cookies and sweets like peanut butter cups, of course, but also pot sodas, pot coffee, pot caramels, and pot rice crackers. There's a daily special of something that costs $4.20 all day, and it's often hard candies or single-gram joints.
Local artists can put up their work for three months; to get in, they put their names on a waiting list. (Currently up are stenciled images on canvas of pop-culture pot lovers like Bill Murray, looking cool, by Court Hoffman.)
Who knew there were this many local marijuana-related magazines? They are here for the taking. As far as equipment goes, there isn't much, but there is at least one glass bong so marvelously elaborate that it must be from Tatooine. JEN GRAVES
9724 Aurora Ave N, 206-453-4145 , daily 8 am–11:30 pm
Ocean Greens feels like an old-school cocktail bar, thanks to its dark wood countertops. But rather than sipping on manhattans while chatting with a curt bartender, customers can bide their time chatting with budtenders who will go through the shop's selection of pre-rolls, which are stashed in something that resembles an apothecary's cupboard or a library filing cabinet.
Folks easily distracted by shiny things will likely busy themselves ogling the shop's wall of intricate glass pipes and bongs. "We can find something for everyone," whether it's high-end flower or something for beginners, budtender Gabriel Meshesha told me. Based on Ocean Greens' vast selection, made less stressful by their calming atmosphere, that doesn't seem like an exaggeration.
If you suddenly find you have the munchies (or if you have a hankering for lunch before lighting up), Ocean Greens is conveniently located next to a Burgermaster, Central American eatery Tropicos Breeze, and Emerald City Smoothie. And if you're willing to walk another block, you can enjoy the wonder that is IHOP's all-you-can-eat pancakes. ANA SOFIA KNAUF
10333 Lake City Way NE, 206-403-1673, Sun–Wed 9 am–10 pm, Thu–Sat 9 am–11:45 pm
Stash's second location in Lake City (the original is in Ballard), framed with purple neon lights around the exterior, looks more like one of those nondescript sordid clubs where you can get a lap dance.
Inside, though, the atmosphere is mellow. Three big screens play Seahawks games while budtenders lean over the counter to say "hi." The slogan and idea behind the shop, emblazoned on their floor, is "Community. Culture. Cannabis." And they are in that order for a reason, says store manager James Joyce. (Yes, he is named after the author, and no, he hasn't read Ulysses: "I tried. It's long and kind of boring.")
Since the owners come from a medical marijuana background, Stash tries to grow its community with pop-ups that offer industry information. In terms of culture, they have sponsored local concerts at places like Tractor Tavern and Showbox. They have even invited a local nail salon to come in and give free manicures. Cannabis is the final part of their slogan because, Joyce explains, "We're in Washington and, well, you can find good cannabis everywhere." But according to Joyce, you can't always find a store that visits each farm themselves to build relationships with their growers.
"Good ol' classic herb" is still their still number-one seller, followed by concentrates and cartridges. They are also one of a few stores that carry Leira Cannagars from Gold Leaf (limited edition). "But we've also got a ton of sublinguals, distillate oils, and awesome edibles, too," he adds.
The store has daily deals on flower, edibles, beverages, and concentrates that you can check out online from Leafly and Weed Maps before coming into the store. Grams go from $10 to $19.75 for top-shelf producers. AMBER CORTES
12001 Aurora Ave N, 206-734-9333, Mon–Sat 10 am–10 pm, Sun10 am–8 pm
Stepping inside of Fweedom Cannabis feels confusing at first: Where's the store, dude? The wraparound beige couch, fish tank, and scattered magazines on a coffee table feel like a doctor's office waiting room. But that's only because Fweedom used to be a medical dispensary. After waiting, you are ushered into one of two smaller rooms featuring the products.
The layout, says salesperson Farin Nishitani, gives customers "a little bit more of a private experience," where both patients and recreational users can have a one-on-one interaction with staff. If you are just looking for something to put your weed in, a separate room features papers, stash boxes, preserve jars, and glass bongs and bowls.
In case you're in a hurry and want to skip the chitchat, you can place an order with "the Doober Machine" in the front room. The machine makes a bong-rip noise (not kidding) to alert the staff in other rooms to fulfill your order immediately.
Fweedom carries products from high-quality medical growers along with recreational producer-processers as well. One of their favorites is Orum, a small farm that went from a medical to a recreational grower. "We like to have smaller farms that take their flowers into more of a craft consideration," explains Nishitani.
After your trip to Fweedom, perfect your golf game at Puetz Golf Superstore right across the street, and try the spicy stew at Gojo Ethiopian restaurant just up the street. AMBER CORTES
12059 Aurora Ave N, 206-363-6000, Mon–Sat 8 am–10 pm, Sun 10 am–10 pm
It's hard to not see the giant 21+ MARIJUANA sign beckoning you from the highway into Seattle Tonics. This sign makes it easy to miss the RAD mural of Jimi Hendrix and Bruce Lee sharing a phat ol' jay on the front of the building (did that ever happen in real life? I hope so).
Seattle Tonics, a play on words and a nod to the former Seattle basketball team, feels like a place you go to ease the pain of last night's dance party. Slick EDM plays on the speakers, and the glass cases against the wall feature a variety of products like cannabis cocktail mixers, a healthy supply of edibles, CBD/THC tinctures, oils, and topicals.
The open layout and the walking menu help when you just want to browse. On a Sunday afternoon, two budtenders are almost not enough to keep up with the busy line of folks coming in and out of the store. Plastic containers behind the counters filled with product give the place an almost Amazon-fulfillment-warehouse kind of feel.
"We like to push the limit on low prices," says budtender Ellie Griffin, who claims that Tonics often has the lowest prices before anybody else does. According to Griffin, people seem to like the four grams of oil for $100 deal, where you can mix and match flavors. Diesel variant NYPD is a favorite: "It's super heady, and even pretty tasty," says Griffin. The store has a daily "happy hour special," a loyalty "fan club" punch card, and popular $99 ounce deals. AMBER CORTES
15029 Aurora Ave N, 206-402-4839, Mon–Sat 8 am–11:30 pm, Sun 9 am–10 pm
If you're looking to find some great eats along with your bud, cannabis boutique Dockside is the place to go. The store is nestled in a strip mall along with a Mexican grocery store, Ethiopian food shop Harambe Market, and a Chinese and a Korean restaurant.
Sustainability is the mantra of Dockside, in everything from the upcycled, wood-palleted walls to the array of flower from local, organic growers. And they've got the education to prove it: Dockside started as a co-op in Fremont, founded by a group of people who got business degrees in sustainability at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute.
According to employee Shaun Magruder, Dockside strives to find producers that have similar values of sustainability, like Quincy Green (whose buds come in compostable packaging and include joint supplies in each box), and Emerald Jane's (a tiny three-tier grower with quality strains).
Shoreline is Dockside's second location (the original is in Sodo), and they are looking to settle into their new digs by making themselves at home among its residents. "We're a neighborhood shop," says Magruder, "and we love to make people feel comfortable enough to come in and ask questions." AMBER CORTES
17517 15th Ave NE, 206-557-7778, daily 9 am–9 pm
Let us say that you are stranded in Shoreline, the northern kingdom that should be called Land of the Skyscraper Trees, with your extended family, which huddles in a house in the shadow of an evergreen every year. It is Thanksgiving morning and you are in need of a joint as big as the tree. There is very good news. When it is a holiday—any holiday—you can get yourself a "giga joint," or a half ounce of weed pre-rolled for your fatty convenience, at 365 Recreational Cannabis on 15th Avenue Northeast. That is the meaning of "365." And stuff is on sale on the holidays.
An employee told me: "Every holiday are these extravagant sales that even as employees we're like 'Really?'"
The person who told me this recently at the store was wearing a Dory the fish costume where her face was the fish mouth. Metallica was playing over the speakers. It was a few days before Halloween (hence Dory, though every Friday is casual Friday, when the workers don't have to wear the usual uniforms), and the holiday sales had already begun. One of those sales was the giga joint, going for $60, 40 percent lower than the regular price. Considering that 365 has a good price on a full ounce at $150, this half-ounce giga-experience for $60 seemed more than festive. Every day there are also early bird (9 am to noon) and happy hour (4 to 6 pm) specials, when you can buy one thing and get another at 25 percent off. This store is medically endorsed, so they make the state-issued cards here. And it should not go without saying that this is the place to go if you would like to find a glass pipe whose business end is the head of South Park's Butters. JEN GRAVES
17547 15th Ave NE, 206-403-1757, daily 9 am–11 pm
Rainier Cannabis is just a few doors down from 365 Cannabis. Between them, there's a church. The church has a sign out front that says "Bethel Lutheran Church. An imperfect church for an imperfect world." This is a smart church. Possibly a church that enjoys a few tokes after all the parishioners have gone.
Rainier Cannabis is a very nice place. It's shiny-new, since it just opened in the spring, and it has all manner of fancy dabbing equipment, each rig resembling a glass miniature of the twisty, rusty open-air factory at Gas Works Park. I have never done this dabbing business, but I hear it makes you very high very fast, when a dose of concentrate is heated on a hot surface and inhaled. Rainier seems like a fine place to prepare for such a thing, with concentrates ranging in price from $15 to $40. Or you may be a traditionalist, sticking with flower and edibles. There are snickerdoodle cookies, granola bites, and bottled juices, especially the popular strawberry lemonade. It's THC-infused, with 30 milligrams for $10 and 60 milligrams for $15. The owners, an employee told me, are in the process of opening a second store in Mountlake Terrace, under the same name. JEN GRAVES
11013 Lake City Way NE, 206-535-8769, daily 9 am–11 pm
Herb(n) wants to avoid the bouncers, faded windows, and slightly sketchy feel of other stores along the Aurora/Lake City corridor with a quiet retreat from Lake City traffic that accommodates both medical and retail customers.
"We see ourselves as a bellwether of the industry that typifies what recreational retail should be," says Jamie McNatt, assistant manager. "So we want to make our store feel just like any other retail outfit that somebody would walk into."
Indeed, their welcoming, inviting atmosphere, with colorful mosaic pillars, natural light, and even an acoustic ceiling designed to minimize reverb, is meant to appeal to both newbies and seasoned cannabis veterans alike.
Although geared toward recreational users, Herb(n) also seeks a patient client base by always having a certified medical marijuana consultant on the premises. They're also starting to issue laminated medical marijuana cards if you bring in your cannabis recommendation.
Along with classic flower, dabs, edibles, and extracts, Herb(n) has an ever-expanding stash of CBD and combined THC/CBD products like capsules, tinctures, and accessories.
They've got a sales special every weekend along with "value eighths" and "dimes of the day," as well as a Reefer Rewards digital punch-card system (because you'll lose that card, you stoner) that offers 20 percent off every 10th visit. AMBER CORTES
9804 Lake City Way NE #1, 206-522-4145, Mon–Sat 9 am–10 pm, Sun 9 am–6 pm
Formerly Greenside Medical of Lake City, this recently remodeled store is smaller than most, but that doesn't seem to affect the selection: They've got everything from flower to pre-rolls, edibles, concentrates, and more crammed into their tight quarters (there's also a glass shop next door). The smaller size also allows for more conversation from the attentive budtenders there, although they're perfectly happy to let you browse quietly too.
The atmosphere at Greenside feels more like the tight-knit medical community of days past, leading one customer to exclaim, "Greenside is like Cheers!" And because of their background in medical, Greenside seems more into topicals than most other strictly retail shops: flow gels, indica and sativa pens, heat rubs, bath soaks, and even lip balm.
For all your sundry sexy tastes, there's an adult video store nearby, along with an erotic boutique and a couple of "gentlemen's" clubs: Déjà Vu and Rick's. AMBER CORTES
14343 15th Ave NE, Suite A, 206-367-1483, Mon–Sat 8 am–12 am, Sun 10 am–10 pm
Departing from the usual lime-green color scheme of most cannabis stores, a bold orange facade calls attention to Glass & Grass. (There's an ATM inside for cash, and a BP station across the street for gas, but please, bring your own ass.)
Inside, the store is huge, with an entire back wall of flower selections, a larger-than-normal display of edibles, and—as promised—a large selection of glass goods in cases in the center of the store ranging from $20 to $200 (Seahawks fans, here's where you get your bongs, BTW).
Formerly a medical co-op called the Solution, Grass & Glass has expanded since entering the retail biz and now has a sister store on Aurora. Pre-rolls and cartridges are the best sellers here, according to Ciara Jones, a budtender at the store since July. Pre-rolls start at $5 and go up to $20 for top-shelf producers like Leaph.
They're open for long hours (with some early-bird specials for customers who come in before 11 a.m.), and even during "rush hour" the store is so big that it never seems crowded. AMBER CORTES
10861 First Ave S, daily 8 am–11:45 pm
NiMBiN is named after a village and "rainbow culture in Australia that's been around hundreds of years," general manager Kim Gilmore told me. "They have a festival every year where they run through the town with a joint about this room's length." We were standing in a room at least 20 feet long. "Very colorful culture." Two huge inflatable joints (not actual joints, but inflatables painted to look like joints) were resting above the shelves behind her. Asked what the local connection is to New South Wales, Gilmore explained, "The owner has relatives in Australia. It was his aunt actually who suggested" the name NiMBiN. The correct way to write it out is in all-caps letters, except for each i. They're supposed to be lower-case so they look like joints.
What sets NiMBiN apart from other stores? "We have one of the largest selections in the state," Gilmore said. "We carry more vendors than just about anybody." They also have amazing deals, including pre-rolled joints for as low as $3 and a whole jar of pre-rolled joints (half an ounce of cannabis) for $70. The store also has a "wake and bake special" from 8 to 10 am every day: Eighths are only $20. And if you join the store's rewards program, every tenth visit you get 10 percent off.
Seven employees have medical marijuana expertise. Gilmore said she developed a passion for the medical applications of cannabis after her husband's cancer treatments rendered him permanently disabled.
No surprise, given their prices, NiMBiN is popular: They have about 600 customers a day, according to Gilmore. They also often have a Nacho Average Food Truck parked outside. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
11537 Rainier Ave S, 206-457-8301, daily 8 am–11:45 pm
Clutch Cannabis is located across the street from the Renton Municipal Airport, a stone's throw from the red, purple, and gold tails of Southwest Airlines planes. "Some people just come right here, bags still in hand," budtender Zach Wright said. "First stop after they land is Clutch. We get customers from all over the world."
Clutch Cannabis is a sponsor of the Stranger Genius Awards, so I was familiar with the place by name, but I had never been down to the shop until recently. The storefront is black, gray, and aqua, and inside is a small yet sleek space that has everything you could possibly need, including things I hadn't seen in other stores, like a collection of dab rigs that ran the spectrum from $40 to $500. "We have an immense concentrates collection," Wright added. "We have some THC crystalline right now, have you heard of that?" He showed me a product from Oleum Extracts, a small jar of tiny white crystals. "You dab it at a high temperature. It's extremely psychoactive."
As for more accessible products—flower, edibles, sodas, candies—they have all that stuff, too. Wright recommended an indica strain called Crouching Tiger Hidden Alien, made by Secrets Gardens of Washington. It comes in a glass jar and has a tiger on the label. "That's a store favorite," Wright said. "It's got a fantastic smoke, very creamy and grapey. It's the bee's knees."
Another budtender walked by and, just from the description he overheard, guessed, "Is that Crouching?"
Wright smiled and looked back at me, saying, "Everyone here loves Crouching." CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
4800 40th Ave SW, 206-922-3954, Mon–Sat 10 am–11 pm, Sun 10 am–8 pm
Origins Recreational, with its clean hardwood floors and built-in cabinetry, feels like the living room of a really wealthy Pacific Northwest hippie. The hippie that was growing organic weed in the 1970s and just happened to buy some Starbucks stock, so now they have a big house in West Seattle with a view and tons of beautiful organic cannabis.
Jon Sherman and Andrew Cornwall, the owners of Origins, care as much about cannabis as any hippie I've ever met. They are unhappy with how the state inspects cannabis—they don't trust the pesticide checks, they don't trust many of the state-approved testing labs, and without the federal government's involvement, there is no way to certify a farm is organic. So, Sherman and Cornwall created their own certification system: Origins Certified.
To become Origins Certified, which is required in order for a product to be sold at their sleek West Seattle shop, a supplier's garden must: undergo random testing for heavy metals and pesticides, only use one of the cannabis testing labs trusted by Origins, and agree to visits from Origins staff every year.
That is a lot, especially considering many retailers base their purchasing decisions on a spreadsheet of prices and THC readings. If you've ever wanted a more personal approach to finding the right cannabis for you, then you should head to West Seattle. The staff at Origins Recreation loves to talk and educate their customers on cannabis. LESTER BLACK
10825 Myers Way S, 206-420-7343, daily 10 am–10 pm
The West Seattle Marijuana Store is located along a busy street in the middle of a bunch of mechanic shops that look like they're in various states of out-of-business. But walk under the green awnings of this white building and everything turns very chill, thanks to some of the friendliest budtenders in town. Big-screen TVs sit between black shelves, everything is clean, and an old-fashioned illustrated map of Seattle hangs on the wall.
With more than 180 strains of flower available and extremely competitive prices—grams start at $6 and eighths start at $20—this is kind of the Uncle Ike's of West Seattle. But without the protestors outside. Also, the staff won't hurry you out the door like they sometimes do at Ike's. One budtender mentioned having been a happy customer for six months before applying to work here.
Ken, a manager who checked my ID at the front door, said they used to get a lot of cannabis tourists coming straight from the airport. That's slowed down, but now their prices and service are gaining them a following from West Seattle locals.
"If we have a good deal from a supplier, we like to pass it on," Ken said. LESTER BLACK
9640 16th Ave SW, 206-588-2441, Mon–Thu 8 am–11 pm, Fri–Sat 8 am–11:30 pm, Sun 9 am–10 pm
Bud Nation is in an unassuming brick-fronted building right in the heart of White Center's 16th Avenue strip. The high-ceilinged space has a glass shop on one side, a dispensary on the other, and the ambience of a medical supply store. Their prices are nice, though—grams start at $7 and eighths at $23, and they have a big-screen TV that plays sports games, so if you run out of bud while the Seahawks are heading into overtime you can stock up here without missing it. A manager told me they try to hire a local and diverse staff, too. However, the best part of Bud Nation is not what's inside, but what's outside on 16th.
Just next door is Rat City Records—which has two rooms of vinyl, music gear, and antiques. That will easily consume an hour of your stoned time. You can grab some trendy ice cream and play video games at Full Tilt Ice Cream across the street, or walk down a few storefronts and get your pizza with a side of Marxism at Proletariat Pizza. Feel like getting some pupusas? The Salvadorian Bakery around the corner on Roxbury Street has some of the city's best fried and filled corn tortillas.
And since Bud Nation is in White Center, there's ample free parking everywhere! LESTER BLACK
614 116th Ave NE, Bellevue, 425-453-5749, Mon–Fri 8 am–12 am, Sat–Sun 10 pm–12 am
A funky oasis in the middle of giant luxury auto dealerships (you know, for those times when you need a gram and a new Lexus), BelMar draws you in with its bright storefront and enthusiastic, dancing sign spinner out front (yes, he loves his job).
Inside, the vibe is fast-paced. Lil Wayne is blasting on the speakers, giving the store a decidedly urban and edgy feel. The young, tattooed, and pierced staff look like people you'd want to party with.
They've got eighths for as low as $25 and as much as $75. "We have something for the connoisseur and for someone who just wants their bud," says budtender Nikole Trickler.
Their top seller in the flower category is Northwest Cannabis Solutions (NWCS). They carry a full selection of their lines, like Blue Dream, Super Lemon Haze, Pink Sherbet, and more, at mid- to low-shelf prices. Another favorite brand is Triumph (formerly Omega), from a grower in Arlington who produces Star-Dawg, which doesn't seem to last even a minute on their shelves: "We just got it in yesterday, and it's already out," says Trickler.
And, well, I'll be dabbed: On the way out, I saw an entire wall of wax, shatters, and concentrates in flavors that would rival the Willy Wonkiest of candy factories (Pineapple, Rainbow, and Grape Kush, Cherries Jubilee, and more). There was a selection of sugar waxes (good for "twaxing" joints, I was told), in a ton of flavor profiles. Phat Panda 12th Man Down is the brand of choice. "That one," says the salesperson, "will really knock you the fuck out." AMBER CORTES
10697 Main St, Suite 2, Bellevue, 425-502-7033, Mon–Wed 10 am–10 pm, Thu–Sat 10 am–11 pm, Sun 10 am–7 pm
As the very first cannabis store to open on the Eastside (they've been there since 2014), Green-Theory has an excellent downtown Bellevue location. Bonus: It's right by a bus stop. The store originally started as more of an upscale boutique, perhaps an attempt to lure in the more moneyed Bellevue types with their wads of bills and flashy cars. But the $65-a-gram thing didn't quite work out, says store manager Ari Emadi, and the store decided to cater to the 99 percent.
Now, they sell their large selection of flower, edibles, vapes and accessories at every price point, and in fact will price match anything you see at another store. They also offer a 20 percent discount for medical patients and are working toward medical endorsements soon.
The store's interior still retains a classy, boutique look: muted green and wood-paneled walls, soft drop lamps, and silky, spa-like music. The "bread and butter" of their edibles are Cannabis Quenchers with combined THC and CBD, and liquid edibles that will fast-track your high. If flower is more your thing, check out their most popular product: 1 gram pre-rolls of Peppermint Cookies (the strain) by Gold Leaf Gardens. The store features a good selection of silicone bongs and high-end vapes as well. AMBER CORTES
13513 NE 126th, Kirkland, 425-896-3169, Sun–Thu 9 am–10 pm, Fri–Sat 9 am–11 pm
If you've driven through Kirkland lately, you've seen the pink-and-purple signs—the billboard, the arrow held by a sign twirler—pointing to Mary Jane Marijuana Boutique, a woman-owned weed store. If you stop by, you'll find some of the friendliest budtenders out there. "I don't like talking bad about other places, but we don't herd people into lines and shove a menu in your face," said budtender Mike Griffiths when I stopped by the other day. Compared to other stores, he said, "We probably have some of the best customer service."
He was standing in a room painted purple, and he was wearing slacks and a dress shirt and a name tag on a rhinestone necklace. They dress nicely because they're trying to get away from the usual clichés about cannabis users (stoners wearing hoodies) and because "we're trying to make the business person who walks in feel comfortable." Microsoft and Google employees get a 10 percent discount. Veterans and medical marijuana patients also get a 10 percent discount. And there's a lunchtime special from 11 am to 2 pm, Monday through Friday, where if you spend more than $30, you get $5 off. Plus, they have an in-store rewards program where you get 20 percent off your purchase every fourth visit.
When I asked about product recommendations, Griffiths said the store stocks many "well-known growers," and mentioned Dama, Dutch Brothers, Doc & Yeti, and Gabriel by name. He said Gabriel was his favorite and held up a canister of flower that looked almost like the packaging tennis balls come in. "The coolest part is it has a magnifying glass on the bottom," he said, turning over the canister to show me. "Oh, I love this stuff." CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
12525 Willows Rd NE, Suite 10, Kirkland, 425-820-5967, Sun–Thu 8 am–11 pm, Fri–Sat 7 am–11 pm
Higher Leaf is Kirkland's first pot shop. They opened last spring. It's tucked into a commercial building off the beaten track, and it's not easy to get to by bus, but what are you doing on the Eastside without a car, anyway? Should you make the drive, you'll be treated to a pleasantly bright store with plenty of wood paneling, polished concrete, and snazzy mid-century modern chairs.
As for the pot, they won a 2014 Dope Cup award for "People's Choice Best Flower." The woman who was their buyer at the time is perhaps the savviest pot connoisseur I've ever met. Currently, they pride themselves on offering "a wide range of CBD products including flower, concentrates, topicals, tinctures, and edibles," so says brand ambassador Erica Laxson. They also offer medical patients a 10 percent discount, to best the lesser discount offered under the state's program (which is no sales tax). That's awesome of them. And, medical patient or not, they've got a pretty decent loyalty discount: If you buy pot from them four times in a row, your entire fifth purchase is 20 percent off.
They also invite a different producer-processor (read: grower) to the store every Friday for an informational session. If you consider yourself a somewhat conscious consumer, you owe it to yourself to stop buying pot with the funniest strain name (I know it's hard to resist Sparkle Cherry Unicorn Dander) and start getting to know your growers. TOBIAS COUGHLIN-BOGUE
1817 130th Ave NE, Bellevue, 425-867-2700, Mon–Sat 9 am–9 pm, Sun 9 am–6 pm
There's an Amonos taco truck that sits outside cannabis boutique Novel Tree, wafting deliciously. "You'll be back on your way out, baby," the taco truck seems to say.
Inside the store, Novel Tree has a Pacific Northwest hipster feel to it: wood-paneled walls, rustic decor, a chalkboard map featuring displays of all the growers they work with. If they added craft cocktails and charcuterie plates to their lineup, it wouldn't be a surprise.
There is no roaming at Novel Tree: After checking in with your ID, you are ushered directly to one of about four budtenders behind the counter. There is a waiting area with strain swatches and iPads displaying menus so you can browse while you wait. The store has flower, edibles, concentrates, and pre-rolls from growers like Zoots, Fair Winds, Sugarleaf Farm, Green Mountain Valley, Rogue Raven Farms, and more.
There's also an art gallery filled with glass goods by local artists, featuring your favorite real and mythological stoner icons: krakens, dragons, and seahorses, along with bubblers and rigs that are reasonably priced, ranging from $25 to $200. Especially fun is the funky mushroom bubbler by Local B, the steampunk-looking Aladdin rig by Robin Hood, and the Seahawks totem rig by Creep Glass. AMBER CORTES
230 NE Juniper St, #201, Issaquah, 425-677-7232, daily 10 am–10 pm
This shop is tucked away on the second floor of a building in the wilds of Issaquah. It smells like pine trees and camping, and through the windows you can see evergreen-furred hills. "Doesn't this building just smell great?" a customer was overheard saying as she left the other day. "Ah!"
The interior of the store was built with mainly recycled materials, like particleboard in lieu of sheetrock, plus orange accent walls and vaulted ceilings. And they have old maps of Seattle on the wall.
"On any given day, we have over 100 strains," said a spokesperson for the store. "And we run daily specials." They put a different strain on discount every day to encourage customers to try new things, and knock a few dollars off the price.
I asked about the silicon bongs ($90) and silicon dab rigs ($45) on the shelf—what makes silicon better than glass, wood, or metal? "It's virtually indestructible, so it's better than glass. It has a high tolerance to heat, unlike wood. And it's very easy to clean—you can just throw a silicon bong in the dishwasher and you don't have to worry about glass clanking against dishes. And it's designed so you can easily go hiking or traveling with it." CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE