Stereotype

Cannabis industry shakes ‘Cheech and Chong’ stereotype

LONGVIEW — When Freedom Market decided to expand its recreational marijuana business to Cathlamet two years ago, only two of three county commissioners approved its application.

And again, when the shop went to renew its license this spring, it passed without County Commissioner Dan Cothren’s approval.

Despite that dissent, the shop’s popularity has grown, and the owners report steadily increasing sales. Store co-owner Todd Bratton said a lot of the customers are Cathlamet-area residents, and that number seems to be growing alongside rising sales.

“(August) was our biggest month to date,” said Bratton. “We are hoping to continue that trend through the winter. And it’s still a lot of locals coming in.”

That might be surprising for some residents in Wahkiakum County, where the 2012 initiative to legalize recreational marijuana garnered only 48 percent “yes” votes. (The measure passed the state with 55.7 percent approval.)

Though industry officials acknowledge that there’s still some pushback against cannabis, they say the business has made great strides in “normalizing” marijuana in the last five years. A recent Gallup poll shows that 66 percent of U.S. citizens support legalizing the drug — an all-time high, and a 10-point boost over the rate when Washington legalized the substance seven years ago.

Industry officials credit the change of heart to time, which has helped dispel some of the misconceptions that roused opposition to legal cannabis.

“I think what you are seeing is sort of a natural progression, now that we are five years in. People have started to see that the industry as a whole are committed to a safe marketplace that is fully regulated and keeps products out of the hands of the kids,” said Vicki Christophersen, executive director for the Washington CannaBusiness Association.


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Scott Martin

Scott is a passionate advocate for legalising marijuana federally. He also believes that past convictions should be overturned, and hopes that his news stories may one day affect the laws. His main focus is to outline the latest cannabis-related policies and help in equipping citizens with the rights to fight unjust arrest and detention.

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