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Marijuana sales in Whatcom County cooling off after initial buzz

Cale Holdsworth from Abilene, Kansas, holds up a bag containing the first legally purchased marijuana  Tuesday, July 8, 2014, at  Top Shelf Cannabis in Bellingham, Holdsworth said he got to the store on Hannegan Road at 4:30 a.m., before the store's 8 a.m. opening.
Cale Holdsworth from Abilene, Kansas, holds up a bag containing the first legally purchased marijuana Tuesday, July 8, 2014, at Top Shelf Cannabis in Bellingham, Holdsworth said he got to the store on Hannegan Road at 4:30 a.m., before the store's 8 a.m. opening. THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

The first retail marijuana stores in Whatcom County are reaping the most green, but sales activity has leveled off since they opened in July.

Top Shelf Cannabis — the first store in Washington state to open after voters passed Initiative 502 in 2012— and 2020 Solutions have rung up more than $1.5 million in retail sales combined since opening in July, according to the Washington Liquor Control Board.

The three other Whatcom County stores have $413,664 in combined sales over the first four months of operation, though some did not open until August (Green Leaf, on Meridian Street) or September (Green Stop in Maple Falls).

But the initial buzz over pot stores has cooled off here, as sales countywide have dropped 4.5 percent since July. Statewide, however, sales have skyrocketed, with 58 retailers reporting $6.6 million in sales in October — a 329 percent increase since July, when 18 stores reported $1.6 million in sales.

  Whatcom Rest of state
July $448,066 $1,552,921
August $600,761 $4,193,498
September $442,023 $5,368,482
October $427,991 $6,661,458
Pct. change - 4.5% 329%

The busiest store in October was New Vansterdam in Vancouver, Wash., which had $228,344 in sales last month.

The state of Washington is benefiting, too. In the first four months, the state has collected more than $3.15 million in excise tax from retailers - and an additional $1.7 million in taxes from growers and processors (and that's just the money collected - growers, processors and retailers owe the state another $3.4 million in excise taxes).

Here's a look at July-October sales at each of the Whatcom County stores:

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