Marijuana store opens in Maple Falls, becomes first out in the county

Stephanie Dilley-Miranda sniffed appreciatively as she walked into Green Stop, the first recreational marijuana store to open in Whatcom County outside of Bellingham.

“Smells good,” the 23-year-old Everson resident said a little after noon Monday, Sept. 15, at 7466 Mount Baker Highway in Maple Falls.

She was there with others and they bought two grams of a strain called White Widow and one gram of a strain called OG Kush. Each gram cost $21.72, including sales tax.

For her and 25-year-old Everson resident Kris Gilbert — they both smoke pot — the day also was about being part of something new since Washington state voters legalized recreational marijuana.

“It’s a new generation. It’s a milestone,” Dilley-Miranda said.

“I figured it was coming,” Gilbert said of legalization, “but I didn’t know how long I’d have to wait.”

Inside Green Stop, a sign read “Thank you for pot smoking” while another sign read “Life is full ot tasty choices” over pictures of different strains of marijuana.

Owner Marc Wilson rang up purchases while a short line of the first customers waited.

“It’s going pretty good. I was happy with the initial turnout,” Wilson said during a break.

Among them was 68-year-old Bill Bezanson. The Maple Falls resident was the first in line. He bought one gram of White Widow.

“I wanted to one time, before I die, buy marijuana legally. I don’t even smoke it anymore. It’s been years. I had a rather adventurous youth and those days are over,” said Bezanson, adding that he liked being able to buy pot “without the police chasing you down the street.”

“I thought that was wonderful,” he said.

Four retail pot stores have opened in Bellingham. Green Stop is the fifth such store to open in Whatcom County.

“I can’t say enough for the local support,” store manager Erik Merta said.

Maple Falls has just 324 residents, according to the 2010 U.S. census. The number of residents in surrounding communities also is small, including the 211 living in Glacier.

But the store’s location along the Mount Baker Highway means that it’s situated along the route taken by hikers, snowshoers and cross-country skiers on their way into Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest as well as skiers and snowboarders headed to Mt. Baker Ski Area. Then there are the Canadians who travel to the area or have seasonal homes there. Combined, that makes for thousands of people.

Merta said they expected to draw customers from the local and tourist market.

Green Stop will be open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Its phone number is 360-746-8734.

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