Washington Town Opens First Government-Owned Marijuana Shop in U.S.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Sales counter inside the Cannabis Corner store (photo: Jason Redmond, Reuters)

The small town of North Bonneville, Washington, does not have a lot of residents or money. But a bold move may soon find the city of 1,000 people flush with cash.


Bonneville leaders have decided to go into the pot business, now that recreational sales of it are legal under state law. The town just opened the first publicly owned pot shop in the country, The Cannabis Corner.


“While most cities around the state have spent the past two years either banning marijuana businesses or reviewing applications for new private stores, the city of North Bonneville took a different route, diving right into the industry,” Justin Runquist wrote at The Columbian.


The shop, which was financed with $283,000 in private loans, could generate $2.7 million in revenue during its first year, according to John Spencer at Pulse Consulting, with profits totaling around $225,000. That would represent a huge sum for Bonneville, considering the city’s entire annual budget is only $1.2 million. And because the shop is government-owned, it doesn’t have to pay taxes.


Runquist reported that all profits from the store will go towards public health and safety expenses. That could include police services, which so far have been contracted from the Skamania County Sheriff's Office at a cost of about $72,000 a year. The revenue from pot sales could allow North Bonneville to finally create its own police department, said the city’s mayor, Don Stevens.


Local businesses are excited about the new shop and are even teaming up for some promotional ideas. The Dam Roadhouse Restaurant, just down the street from Cannabis Corner, is creating coupons that will offer customers special deals for making purchases at both establishments.


Others are wary of the development. Among them is County Sheriff Dave Brown, who told The Seattle Times, “I don’t think government should be in the business of selling marijuana. It’s not a fundamental function of government.” Lawyer Brad Andersen believes the shop is violating federal law and threatened to file a petition to recall Mayor Stevens and the city council members. Both Andersen and Brown, however, have said they are willing to see how the new business plays out as part of the community.


Stevens has sought to put everyone’s mind at ease, explaining that the store’s five-member governing board has the power to close up shop any time it sees fit.

- Danny Biederman, Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Columbia River Gorge Town Gets Into Pot Business (by Justin Runquist, The Columbian)

Here’s A First: Tiny Town Will Open Its Own Pot Shop (by Evan Bush, Seattle Times)

The Cannabis Corner

How to Buy Marijuana Legally in California (by David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


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