It was all just supposed to be a fun story. In 2013, as Washington State began the process of legalizing cannabis for recreational use, it was announced that there would be a lottery for people interested in acquiring a license to sell recreational marijuana. A friend encouraged Molly Honig and her husband Andy to apply for the lottery. Neither of them had been involved in the legalization of medical marijuana or had even run a retail store before, but they figured someone was going to get those licenses. Why not them?
Taking a leap of faith to land on the cutting edge of cannabis was a good business idea, and after some research, Molly was certain that legalization was going to be good for the state. “I’m a big believer in freedom of choice and the freedom to use cannabis as an adult is an important one,” says Molly. “And this industry has opened that choice to people. We wanted to be a part of that.” So they figured, why not get in on a little bit of history and throw their names into the ring? They sent off their application and didn’t give it that much more thought.
After the first round of applications came through, things got more interesting. To make it into the final round of the lottery you had to prove that you had the space and the funding for a storefront. Now it was go time. Molly had a one month window to certify that they were ready to rock and she decided to go for it. So she hit the phones. She spent several frantic weeks searching for retail spaces that had all of the requirements. She worked with a few realtors, but it was mostly all grunt work, pulling up property records on Google and cold calling the owners. Looking back, Molly laughs that it was a struggle, “I’d been a teacher for years. I’d never cold called in my life!” However, she persevered, and they secured a property with intent to lease. The documentation was set. They were able to show they’d met all of the lottery requirements. In Kirkland, the number of license applicants went from 32 to 11. Molly and Andy’s pot shop dreams were looking good.
Then, they got the news. The lottery was over. All of their work was for nothing. They received the fourth spot. The strange weed shop chapter of their lives seemed to be over. Molly and Andy moved on quickly and decided to have a third child. Molly got pregnant, and life seemed to have gone back to normal. Then they received a call that changed all that. The people in front of them on the list had backed out. If they wanted it, they were now the proud owners of a license to sell recreational cannabis. Molly once again went into full entrepreneurial mode and became a regulatory compliance ninja. There seemed to be an endless list of rules to follow, but one by one she mastered them all. And in 2015, Higher Leaf’s Kirkland location opened to the public.
Today, Higher Leaf’s business is booming, and Molly and Andy have added a second location in Bellevue, Washington. Molly loves her many roles as a mom, a board member of the PTA, and owner of one the largest cannabis stores in Washington State. Her dream may have started with luck and an idea for a cool story, but she pulled the crazy narrative into reality through skill, an eye for the rules, and sheer tenacity. Stop in today at Higher Leaf’s Bellevue or Kirkland locations to experience this local pot shop!