The Reef on Capitol Hill, which like all other pot shops does something that used to be considered a crime, is now considered an essential business.
The Reef, which like all other pot shops does something that used to be considered a crime, is now considered an "essential business" by the state. Christopher Frizzelle

It's happening in every neighborhood: Bars and shops that are essential to the character of the city are boarded up, while weed stores, relatively new on the scene, are open for business. Many people didn't see that coming. At The Reef on Capitol Hill, right after the governor announced stay-at-home orders but before the clarification that pot shops were officially "essential," the line of customers extended down East Olive Way to the Crescent. A friend reported waiting in that line for half an hour. The Reef's director of marketing Jesse Codling talked to The Stranger about the crowds, the crisis, and deals for people stocking up for the apocalypse.

The last couple times I walked past The Reef I saw a line around the block. Are you seeing more customers than usual?
We saw a surge in business during the month of March. But ever since cannabis stores were deemed “essential” things have come back to normal. The line around the block really is a reflection of the social distancing measures and safety policies we have in place.

Are people buying different stuff during this crisis than they were before?
Definitely.

Like what?
Not only different stuff, but we are also seeing an uptick in quantities. We are trying to cater to these customers with new specials on ounces and half ounces. There’s still a focus on getting the best quality product, which we have always prided ourselves on. There’s also a lot of demand for value options—so we’ve prioritized our specials to ensure we have quality products with a value price point. We’ve also seen an uptick in edibles and CBD options since the COVID-19 crisis hit.

How has social-distancing changed the way people shop?
We made a few adjustments to our hours and operations. Our Capitol Hill location is now open 10 am to 10 pm, seven days a week. Our customers have been super cooperative and supportive. Even though crowds are limited inside the store, the store experience hasn’t changed much — it’s just a lot more sanitized. Customers are ordering online in advance, which is appreciated, but our store is still very much the same. Awesome budtenders caring for customers.

The Reefs online menu looks like this.
The Reef's online menu looks like this.

What do you recommend for people who want something to help with anxiety, but most weed products make them anxious?
There is ample anecdotal evidence that products high in CBD and CBG relative to THC help with anxiety. We carry a ton of novel products that could be effective—transdermal patches, tinctures, tablets, and of course, flower, joints, and vape cartridges. Examples: Flyright CBD by Mobus, Spectrum by Fairwinds, Relief by Green Revolution, The CBG Blend full-spectrum cannabis oil by Heylo, CBD 10:1 Balance tinctures by Mfused, Harlequin flower by Washington Bud Co., and CBD 25:1 Peppermints by Mr. Moxey Mints.

What do you recommend for people who want something to help with insomnia, but most weed products keep them awake?
Products high in CBN. Beauty Sleep or Deep Sleep tinctures by Green Revolution are great. We have a "count them sheep" section in-store that’s curated with lots of products to assist with ZZZs.

Given that COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, is it a bad idea to be smoking flower these days?
That's a great question, but one probably best fielded by medical professionals. [The Stranger asks a doctor here.] However, we strongly encourage our guests to use their best judgment while taking cannabis products regardless of how they choose to consume. For those that decide to smoke or vape, please be smart, clean your devices often, and do not share with others during this time.

The panic shopping that resulted in a line around the block has died down since pot stores were deemed essential, but theres still usually a small line. It enforces social distancing.
The panic shopping that caused huge lines has died down, but there's still a small line. It enforces social distancing.

Do you have any deals running for people who are stocking up for self-isolation?
Absolutely! All month long, save 20 percent on Bocca & Millennium Gardens flower, and 30 percent on Millennium Extracts. Plus, be on the lookout for deep discounts from more of our favorite vendors—it’s April 2020 (4/20) all month long so we will have tons of specials happening that vary daily and weekly.

How has all this craziness affected the budtenders? How has it affected customers?
Our budtenders have been rockstars in a very uncertain, risky, and tumultuous time. A huge shoutout to them! Our customers have been really good with all the new protocols. People are thankful, ourselves included, we can stay open. We're making sure to continue giving back as well. Since our opening, we've always donated 5 percent of profits to select organizations. During this crises, we will direct that giving entirely to local COVID-19 relief programs.