PSA3 – Fair Trade Retailers

PSA2 – Know your Products
July 1, 2016
PSA4 – Know your Exposure
July 12, 2016
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PSA3 – Fair Trade Retailers

Quote from below:  “If you like the idea of having a vibrant and diverse bunch of smaller farmers out there supporting product diversity and development and, simply, artisanal excellence, I’d suggest you give these stores a shot.”

As a law-abiding patient now forced to navigate the regulated retail waterways of our State, you may find yourself confused as to where in Washington to best shop for your regulated and highly taxed Cannabis products.   The names taken by the stores are not too helpful there, even though they often evoke good marketing-speak imagery (see attached wordcloud based on current store names).RETAIL_StorenameWordlcloud

Where (and if) you shop is, of course, a personal decision.  It is also a decision that is based on different factors for different people.

The stores you choose will often be ones closer to you.  Ones that carry the products you need (and/or want).  Ones that seem decently priced in comparison to their regulated competitors.  Ones sharing a decent amount of your consumer dollars with the Farmers that supply this market.  The one with that cute guy that works on Thursdays.  Ones, perhaps, that tend to stock product NOT tested by “Friendly” labs.  Maybe ones that seem to be moving “medical-type” products more frequently.  Your choices will, hopefully reflect what works best for you.

I’ll address some of these factors over the next little while to help you make better-informed decisions (note … I have very little data on the cuteness of male or female employees), but for now I wanted to leave you with a simple list of the “Top Fair Trade” Regulated Recreational/Medical State-legal Cannabis stores in Washington.


I’m not going to get into detail on the metrics and method I used to arrive at this list, other than to say that — when standardized for the different wholesale flower prices across the different Regions of the State — the listed Retailers have tended, over the first 4 months of 2016, to pay the Farmers that supply them a better “rate” for their flower.  They have also, for the most part, been able to do that while setting out-the-door prices for YOU at levels competitive with the market in which they operate.

I’ve designed the list to ensure that there are stores scattered around the State (I suspect most of you share my disdain for having to drive 250 miles in order to get your meds).

If you like the idea of having a vibrant and diverse bunch of smaller farmers out there supporting product diversity and product development and artisanal excellence,  I’d suggest you give these stores a shot. 

These stores are (in this uni-dimensional way) doing right by the Farmers of this State.  By doing so, they are doing right by YOU.  If you support them they are likely to continue doing what they do.  Maybe some of the stores pinching the farmers for all they’ve got (I call them the cheap-pot-merchants) will come around to a different business model over time —- I’m guessing they would if they saw lots of business moving to these stores.

I’ve quantified this stuff for all stores, but thought I’d be glass half full this month and simply call out the stores that are doing good by the farmers.  That is because they are, IMO, also doing right by the patients (and other consumers).  I’ll reserve sharing the outliers at the other end of the list publicly and will save that for interested clients (“CFC Farmers Package members, included”).  Chances are, most farmers already know who the worst leeches are.

Note that, while many stores seem to be “average” in their pricing to Farmers, the ones on this list seem to be going out of their way to ensure a more sustainable agricultural infrastructure supporting this industry.  Chances are the product on their shelves is of better average quality, as well.  Seriously CHECK THEM OUT.  There are many other good stores out there, but these ones are helping to give a vibrant farm community a chance.  They need such a chance, given the anti-agriculture idiots that seem to be increasingly governing here in Washington.

Remember that even leeches play an important role in our ecosystem — or so I’d like to believe (and I don’t want to be seen as being unfair to either real leeches or to stores that seem to only source the cheapest of the cheapest product).

I’d love your feedback as to whether or not you find these PSA’s useful.

I hope your journey of discovery in the regulated Cannabis market is a pleasant and successful one.  Shop well.  Shop smart (and ask for the lab test result sheet the next time you go shopping …. the stores are REQUIRED to have it on hand.  If they don’t, perhaps a complaint might be in order).







  1. Jim MacRae says:

    Note from Jim in response to some off-line questions I’ve been getting – : Stores are not ranked within Region … they are sorted alphabetically by City within County. ALL of the stores on this list appear to be doing right by farmers (they are on the “good” end of the distribution …. unless you define “good” the way Walmart often does).

  2. Allison Bigelow says:

    Im very much enjoying reading your posts! Thank you for your insight!

    • Jim MacRae says:

      Thank-you, Allison. I appreciate your kind words.
      I look forward to joining you on the Hemposium Panel on Sunday afternoon.

      Go Hempfest!

  3. Susy Wilson says:

    This is great information for I502 farmers to have at their disposal and as a recreational grower I really appreciate it being available and all the work it took to compile it!

    Thanks Jim for all you do on behalf of consumers of cannabis in WA state!

    • Jim MacRae says:

      Thank-you, Grandma …. and congratulations on the new addition to your family. I’m glad to hear that both kids are doing fine.
      A wonderful activist and data scientist (one Emily Spahn) has been helping me with some of the data linkages necessary to complete the associations between wholesalers, labs, retailers and the product that is being sold. You can expect more stuff profiling Retailers (and Farmers) on HI-Blog within the next 2 weeks. As a charter 60BC’er, you and your peers can also expect some more detailed Retailer profiling information in the very near future (by end of month).

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