When Sharon Jacobson opened Herb’s House last September in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, she wanted to create a welcoming space for anyone to come in and enjoy a coffee or juice whether or not they were there to access the upstairs dispensary for Washington medical marijuana patients. With its comfy furniture, art-covered walls and light, airy feel, Herb’s is just that—a cozy neighborhood space that anyone can enter and feel at home in.
We talked with Sharon about her business and the future of cannabis in Seattle once the recreational shops open later this year.
You had the idea to open a more female-friendly space once you became a patient yourself. Have you found that more women have been coming here?
We have a huge percentage of women patients. A lot of women come in here to get their medicine and bring their friends and hang out and have smoothie, chitchat and use the Wi-Fi. It’s great for families, too. A patient can come in with her nanny and her baby, and go upstairs to the collective while they wait downstairs.
How’s business been since you opened?
Super great. The neighborhood has been very welcoming and inviting, and there’s been lots of positive feedback. I feel like the neighborhood keeps coming back and referring their friends. It’s awesome.
How do you develop your menu, downstairs and up?
Before we opened I knew I wanted to do juices and smoothies. I had one juice-building day and bought every ingredient I could think about that could possibly go into a juice. I had friends who wanted to create their own juice or give their recipe, and we tested all of them. Then I chose the top ones I wanted to use. I had a smoothie day with the same idea. I named the juices and smoothies after the people who had created them. Joy, Happy Steve, Power Mint and Sammy Sam. I wanted to pay a little homage to them.
Upstairs, typically vendors come to our location with their product. Our vendor policy is we accept samples from everyone who wants to leave one. We test everything. I have several of our bud tenders test products before we put them on the shelf. I trust their opinion. We choose the crème de la crème.
Do you have any favorite strains or picks right now?
I personally don’t smoke a lot of flower, but I like bubble hash. I also prefer the C02 oil, it’s really pure. I prefer a concentrate just because I get more bang for my buck, if you will, not dollar-wise but smoking wise. I would have to take five puffs off a flower versus one puff off some nice hash.
We also started providing raw cannabis juice from the leaves for our patients. It’s great for anybody going through cancer treatments, or something similar. I know people who pop a couple cubes into their water bottle at the beginning of the day and medicate—there’s no psychoactive component to it, it’s completely medicinal.
How did you become associated with Kush Tourism?
They approached me. They said, “Hey, we’re going to start this business, these are our ideas and what do you think about tours coming to see what you have going on?” They said that they had gone to several locations and it just wasn’t the right fit for them. They came in, checked it out and said, “Yes, we want to work with you.” I don’t think we’re a location that appears on every tour, but what’s appealing is that we can fit into any tour.
You also applied for a recreational license, yes?
In the lottery we placed 26th, I believe there are 21 recreational shops allotted in Seattle so we missed by five, but we’re really hopeful that we’ll nudge closer to that 21st position. There could be a gamut of reasons that others drop out: Location, history check, funds that may not be legitimate.
I see us continuing with the good thing we have going as long as we can. Hopefully, we can reapply and get issued a license. I’m anticipating the process will get even more rigorous because it’s just been the basic minimums to get you to this point. Now is the nitty-gritty.
There’s a lot of talk about what might happen to the dispensaries once recreational shops open. Any thoughts?
It’s such a Catch-22. As it is, medical is completely unregulated. I don’t see the [Washington State] Liquor Control Board allowing an unregulated market to compete with their regulated market. I think there will be a merging of some sort, but I really hope that they keep the patients in mind when they do that merge.
As they are now, the laws in retail sales don’t allow you to offer any advice as to the proper medicine for certain ailments. Even though it hasn’t been approved by the FDA, it has been approved by communities of people for certain ailments. I hope the patients don’t get screwed. So many patients have never used cannabis before and don’t know anything about the different forms of use. They really need to be walked through the process and given advice.
Once recreational stores open, how necessary do you think it will be to have a MMJ card?
I would recommend to anyone who wants to use it for their health to seek out that recommendation. Go to dispensaries now and learn as much as you can before it’s too late. They say July, but I’m not buying July. They haven’t even issued a license yet. Then to top it off, there’s the production. People do have it started right now, but to the capacity of the shops? I don’t know. I assume it will be more like sometime in the fall.
Herb’s House is located at 716 NW 65th St., just off 8th Ave. NW, in Ballard.