When Paper & Leaf opened its doors on Bainbridge Island, Washington, two years ago, the idea of a boutique cannabis store — a place that seemed to have popped out of a Martha Stewart catalogue, complete with softly-lit display boxes hung on the walls and an expansive elm table — still held a bit of novelty. Yet in the intervening years, more and more dispensaries have picked up on the classy vibes that made Paper & Leaf so enticing, and are cashing in on a trend towards high-end cannabis.
Paper & Leaf’s decision to go bad and bougie was not a minor one; co-owners Stephen Kessler and Brendan Hill (who also happens to be the drummer of long-standing jam-pop arena rockers Blues Traveler) make clear that, especially as cannabis goes legal, it’s important to make the skeptics feel at ease just as much as the long-time consumers. (Oh, and the requisite ferry ride from Seattle to Brainbridge Island — they’ll pick you up in a complimentary shuttle — sure doesn’t hurt, either). With a wide range of local Washington flower and quirky edibles like Mr. Moxey’s Mints and Goodship Fruit Jellies, Paper & Leaf deliver the product as well as the experience. And the formula has paid off; they recently expanded into the adjacent building, where they sell shwag, coffee and more.
Listen in to this podcast interview with Hill and Kessler, below, recorded for the Hash podcast (now part of the San Francisco Chronicle), to hear more about the painstaking policies of starting a recreational dispensary in the state of Washington, the lessons they’ve learned along the way and why their taxes are so darn high.
TELL US, what do you look for in a dispensary?