In early July, retailer, Western Bud, held an event in downtown Bellingham to reveal something big. The invitation read “We will be making a formal announcement that should shake up the industry.” I couldn’t wait to hear the news.
The party was at the Boundary Bay Mountain room, a local microbrewery friendly to the cause. The place was teeming. Cannabis growers, Western Bud staff, and connoisseurs were there to hear owner, Dana Donovick’s Big announcement. Brutha Dudes was there with their food truck, serving up weed-themed eats, and free beer helped keep conversations flowing.
“The whole theme of the night is to disrupt the industry”—owner, dana donovick
Once inside, I found Kayla, who manages Western Bud’s Iowa St. store in Bellingham. I asked her what the deal was. She said they’ve teamed up with local vendors to curate the best product and strains on the market into one cohesive top-shelf brand: Western Bud.
In Washington, this is huge. Other stores that have attempted to brand their own weed have either not made a big deal about it, or not focused on the highest quality.
Western Bud has a different approach. They’re announcing it to the world—and proudly so— with the full support of their contributing vendors. And they have all poured their hearts into making this a connoisseur-grade brand.
“The whole theme of the night is to disrupt the industry,” Dana said in a speech to the crowd. He’s a magnetic personality and loved in this circle—with vendors and his own staff alike. He kept his address short. Everyone knew why we were there. He thanked his team and the vendors who had made it possible. “We only hire Lebron James,” he said with a smile.
Who are the vendors?
So, they have a new Western Bud branded product line. Who’s growing the weed? Some of the best producer/processors in the State—from right here in Bellingham, to the Olympic Peninsula, to Seattle:
- Sugarleaf, out of Skagit Valley
- Zenta Garden, from Blaine
- Green Acres Pharm, in Anacortes
- Coastal Cannabis, from Seattle
- Root Worx, out of Shelton
- Vodis U.S.A., in Bellingham
- CannDo Growers, from Everson
- Happy Valley Farm, in Bellingham
- Fine Detail Greenway, in Bellingham
What struck me, was the comradery of the growers. Rather than guarded conversations amongst competitors, I heard farmers talking shop, telling jokes, and having a good time. And for the Western Bud customers who attended, it was like a mini cannabis convention, glimpsing the industry side of recreational marijuana.
This sense of community is another aspect of what makes Dana’s new project so special. It can bring the industry together and lift people up in a powerful new way.
Talking to the growers:
I had a chance to talk to a couple of growers I’d been wanting to meet for a while, and learn a little about them.
I’d heard about Zenta Garden from Kayla a while back, and tried—and loved—the product. I found the Zenta folks at a table and chatted it up with Dominique, who runs the operation up in Blaine, Washington.
Dominique ran a medical marijuana collective and traveled the world before coming to Zenta. He’s passionate about the industry as a whole, and about the nuts and bolts of growing marijuana.
I asked him what makes Zenta so special. He says, “We produce strains unique to the market. Rather than grow tons of strains, we specialize in five. And we prove all of our strains before introducing them.”
I asked him what strains he’s most excited about. “Our best seller is Sherbet. But I love Jillybean,” he says. “It’s the terpiest, most sativa-dominant strain I’ve ever tried. It’s phenomenal!”
Then I had a chance to talk to Ryan, who runs and co-owns Root Worx. They’re an indoor/outdoor Tier-2 out of Shelton, Washington. Ryan is a former chemist, who wanted to get out of the corporate 9–5 and follow his passion.
Oddly, he can’t smoke cannabis himself, because he is severely allergic to it. “If you see me smoking weed, stick an epi-pen in me and take me to the hospital,” he says. You’d never know it from talking to him though. Ryan is as chill and laugh-out-loud funny as they come.
And he’s passionate about helping people with cannabis, and focusing on quality over quantity. For Ryan, it’s important to honor the industry’s medical marijuana roots. “The whole reason we’re here is because a patient had a problem,” he says.
I asked him how it’s been going—leaving the corporate world to start a new life in cannabis. “Year three, and I don’t have a fuckin job. I have a passion, but I don’t have a job.”
The Product Line
Their number one seller, Dana says, is their Caviar Buds. These are buds soaked in cannabis oil and rolled in kief.
By partnering with some of the area’s best growers, Western Bud has assembled an entourage of boutique strains for their house brand:
- UW Purp
- Raspberry Kush
- Granddaddy Purple
- Cannalope Kush
- Orange Kush
- Super Lemon Haze
- MK Ultra
- White 99
- Bubba Kush
- Agent Orange
- Cherry Pie
The friendly vibe, and excited buzz in the air gave serious weight to this event. You got the feeling this was more than a simple celebration, and truly the industry-disrupting announcement Dana was talking about. Dominique, from Zenta Garden sums it up, “Dana is going to dominate the industry, you watch.”