Here's a good question for kush-induced pondering: What will 82nd Avenue's strip malls look like this time next year? My bet is they will be well on their way to becoming a lot like the one that houses Vancouver's newest legal weed emporium, The Herbery (212 NE 164th Ave., No. 11, Vancouver, 360-841-7500, theherberynw.com). The Herbery is in a green-and-white plaza, catty-corner from an O'Reilly Auto Parts, Mary Jane's House of Glass, and—you can't make this shit up—Blazzin Pizza, and is everything I want to see happen to 1980s car-focused shopping areas. The store was even christened by Sir Mix-A-Lot.
Like the vast majority of weed dealers in Washington, the Herbery, with its white, adhesive-frosted glass windows and unassuming streetside presence, isn't shouting at anyone too loudly. But the classically styled backlit mall sign makes no effort to hide it from the prying questions of suburban children to their parents, either.
Inside the Herbery, it's not an Apple Store or even average medical dispensary chic. But it is clean and brightly lit, with three large jewelry cases holding the goodies and various mechanisms for their consumption, with bongs located on shelves above the cases. The budtenders—or, as I like to call them while imagining them with tiny green wings when high, "weed fairies"—work in pairs behind each case, ready to find the right bud for you. There are two new ATMs by the entrance for people who want to pay cash for their Pineapple Express instead of using their debit card. Yes, they actually take plastic here—for now.
There's a large strain selection—35 from eight growers when I visited—and it is indica-heavy. They only had grams of Headband and a few sativa-dominant hybrids for sale. But I was told they have people scouring farms for new strains this week, especially sativas. So, sativa man that I am, and despite one of their excellent weekend-only specials that seemed almost too good to be true—$40 for one-eighth of an ounce of Orange Kush, $12 for a gram—I settled on Blue Hawaiian, a $20-per-gram giggle-inducer with a sticker on the pouch asking me to "Like" it on Facebook. Then I went on my merry way, green paper bag in hand, in a trip that took less than 10 minutes.
The strip-mall effect is immediately apparent, and quite grounding. You don't feel like you just left somewhere interesting; it all seems very normal, like when you used to run out to RadioShack for batteries for that fucking wireless GameCube controller. And it isn't hard to imagine that, in 20-some years, this place too will go out of business because of Amazon.