Back To School 2016
So you're coming to the green, green Emerald City for school, among other things. Is one of those other things weed? Of course it is, you're in college. Experimenting with mind-altering substances is about as much of a requirement for graduation as completing English 101. Lucky for you, weed is legal here in Washington, which makes your experimenting a whole lot less fraught (although you still run the risk of ending up as the type of person who names their bong and owns one or several of those atrocious knit poncho hoodies). But you no longer need to do the strange dance of the underground drug deal. Indeed, when it comes to the devil's lettuce, our fair city is rife with pot peddlers, eager to sell you the latest and greatest weed-infused hair gel. I'll point you in the right direction in a moment, but first, a few words of wisdom.
The number one most important rule of consuming cannabis in Washington is this: Don't be a jackass. Everything else kind of flows from that, but there are some specifics. You can't possess more than one ounce of smokable flower, 16 ounces of infused edibles (brownies and their ilk), 72 ounces of infused liquid products (yes, Virginia, there is weed soda), or seven grams of concentrates (wax, shatter, oil, etc.). You can't mail it, fly with it, take it across state lines, take it into a federal building, or really do anything that has to do with the Feds. State ferries, however, are pretty much neutral on the subject, so feel free to get baked on Bainbridge Island.
However, when transporting it, be careful. Like alcohol, having any open container of pot in your car is against the law. If you've popped the seal on that pre-roll, toss it in the trunk before you take off. And don't drive stoned. Our DUI laws are ridiculously draconian, with a five nanogram limit for THC in your bloodstream. You can literally get a DUI for something you smoked yesterday.
Public consumption is illegal. It sucks, but there are no pot cafes and you can't smoke on the sidewalk. Also, if you don't own a home, your landlord can prohibit pot. If your home is a dorm, you're more than likely out of luck. (Both Seattle University and University of Washington prohibit cannabis on campus, in keeping with federal drug policy.) When it comes to street smoking, the city's unofficial policy, as outlined to me by Deputy City Attorney John Schochet, is to do it where you won't be a nuisance to people who might not enjoy your smelly weed as much as you do.
Forget a fake ID. You might think you're slick, but that $100-plus you spent on ID God is gonna go right down the drain when you get to the door. The security team at Uncle Ike's, Seattle's largest pot shop, knows all the websites you go to, and they confiscate at least 10 fakes every week. They're not alone. I watched some whippersnapper get his ID taken at Stash Pot Shop—and trust me, you don't wanna be that guy or gal.
Don't commit drug crimes. While our state's legalization laws drastically reduce the possibility of being charged with a state level drug crime, and the federal government isn't likely to raid your dorm unless you've got bricks and a scale in there, you can still get in trouble for pot. Underage possession is a crime, selling an ounce or two to your buddies is definitely a crime, and possessing more than the aforementioned limits is a crime. Drug crimes, be they state or federal, can render you ineligible for financial aid.
All that said, if you're of age and so inclined, get it! The weed here is great, legalization has made the array of available products insane (see: weed lube), and, for fuck's sake, it's legal! There's weed that will put you and your frat brothers totally in the zone for Call of Duty marathons, there's weed-infused energy shots that will make you stay up studying hard at the library all night, there's high-CBD weed to kill your anxiety when you start thinking about your job prospects in relation to your student loan debt—hell, there's weed for every occasion. Products come in a wide variety of sizes, from half-gram pre-rolls and five milligram cookies on up to full ounces of flower and bags of 10 milligram brownie bites. Edible options range from infused snacks to cannabis cocktail syrups, and there's a whole universe of topicals that's just beginning to explode.
To navigate the different strains and their various effects, Leafly.com, which can loosely be described as the Yelp of pot, is invaluable (full disclosure: I also write for their news site). Beyond that, your budtender is your best friend. They're full-time weed nerds so you don't have to be. To make it a pleasant interaction, have an idea of what type of experience you're looking for (going to a concert, pain relief, sleep aid, etc.), don't be afraid to ask questions (no matter how dumb), and definitely don't forget to tip if you find them helpful. Now that you're armed with all that knowledge, here are a few good places to get your green.
American Mary is the closest pot shop to the University of Washington, and thus the closest pot shop to the vast majority of this article's target audience. I haven't been there, but my buddy Chris, who's getting his PhD in anthropology at UW, said, "I went once, but it was honestly very forgettable. It's... convenient?" Not a ringing endorsement, but again, it's the closest pot shop to you.
What guide would be complete without Uncle Ike's, Seattle's biggest and boldest pot shop? Though Ike's is often the center of controversy, having earned itself a reputation as a soulless harbinger of gentrification in the city's historically African American Central District, it's also the center of cheap pot. Ike's often sells more than $1 million worth of pot a month, which means they've got crazy purchasing power. Like, $95 an ounce purchasing power. That $95 ounce isn't going to knock your socks off, but it won't break the bank, either. Ike's is the starving, stoney student's best friend.
College is about learning, right? Dockside's Sodo location is also home to its cannabis museum, which is a veritable fount of weed-related knowledge, as well as a bunch of very knowledgeable and friendly budtenders. Their selection is also quite impressive. All of the above will ensure that your buying experience is a positive one, especially if you're from rural Wisconsin and have never seen weed before.
Vela is also in Sodo, and it is a similarly excellent option for the first-time smoker. Vela's claim to fame, in addition to being the first pot shop to look like an Apple store, is that they're in the same building as a licensed grower, and they've got windows directly into one of the grow rooms. Those windows are lined with informational panels detailing the life cycle of the cannabis plant and its various characteristics. More learning! But seriously, if you're going to smoke it, eat it, or put it up your ass (see: weed lube), you should know how it's made. Speaking of that, you should know that it's made well and Vela's selection trends toward ethical, high-quality brands.
These are the only two pot shops in downtown Seattle, and they're not even in the downtown core because everyone is still really scared of pot, despite it being legal, and thus we have bizarre zoning laws. That said, they're both good shops, and well worth the trip over to Belltown for those looking to enjoy the myriad stoner-friendly things you can do in or near the city core—Bumbershoot, Hempfest, Seattle Art Museum, Showbox, the mini doughnuts stand at Pike Place, and PAX West, to name a few.