Washington weed retailer says Canada's legalization 'will help' business

BLAINE, Wash. -- At 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, Canada became the largest country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana.

And at least one marijuana retail shop less than two miles from the border isn't worried legalization will cut into stateside profit.

In fact, quite the opposite.

"It will help my business," said Don Hartleben, the manager of Blaine's Dank of America. 

Hartleben gives a few reasons for why Canada legalization will be a boon for the dank bank. First, he watched Washingtonians who had never used weed trying it only after it was made legal.

He believes the same thing will happen in Canada, opening up a gigantic new customer base.

"We have senior citizens who had never used marijuana using tinctures and coming into the store," Hartleben said. "The same thing is going to happen in Canada. The more awareness out there, the better it is for us."

Second, weed will not be allowed over the border in any direction. Importing cannabis is prohibited under Canada's new laws, the CBC reports. Attempting to bring weed in from Canada is also illegal, and could even be punishable by arrest. From a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol statement:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection enforces the laws of the United States and U.S. laws will not change following Canada’s legalization of marijuana. Requirements for international travelers wishing to enter the United States are governed by and conducted in accordance with U.S. Federal Law, which supersedes state laws. Although medical and recreational marijuana may be legal in some U.S. States and Canada, the sale, possession, production and distribution of marijuana or the facilitation of the aforementioned remain illegal under U.S. Federal Law. Consequently, crossing the border or arriving at a U.S. port of entry in violation of this law may result in denied admission, seizure, fines, and apprehension.

For Hartleben, this again means more customers.

"We're a resort town," he said. "It's illegal for them to bring their product from Canada down to Washington."

It's not like Hartleben saw a huge boon of buyers from Canada when it was illegal there, he said. He described British Columbia's attitudes around marijuana as similar to Washington's and the rest of the West Coast's. It's tourists from the East Coast who seem most blown away by legalized weed, and who are the most likely to make big tourist purchases.

Finally, Hartleben sees Washington's marijuana industry as more mature and offering more options to the avid consumer. Canadians who travel to Washington will still want to taste the local wares.

"They're going to want to select a connoisseur type to partake in," Hartleben said.