P ink tape marks off a small rectangle of dirt adjacent to Carol Ehrhart's home near the top of Sunset Hill in West Spokane. As Ehrhart paces around the tape, she describes her plans for the Four Twenty Friendly marijuana boutique, now nearing its expected opening in mid-August.
Ehrhart, 43, a longtime accountant, envisions a 560-square-foot shop specializing in marijuana-infused edibles and select strains of marijuana. Ehrhart and her fiancée, Alissa Taylor, so far are the only applicants on the west side of Spokane to win a top spot in state's license lottery.
"We have a lot of hotels and stuff around here," Ehrhart says, "so we figure we'll get more of the tourists, or more of the discreet users who don't want to be seen walking into a place on Division."
A year ago, Ehrhart never dreamed she would be launching her own marijuana business. But opportunity moves rapidly, and Ehrhart says she saw the chance to get in on the "ground level" of a popular new market. She has charged head-on into the challenge, navigating the complicated approval process and relearning a culture that has evolved since her high school days.
"It's a risk," she says. "Starting any business is a huge risk. ... We are in uncharted territory."
Ehrhart realized that — with some major security enhancements — the commercially zoned property her home rests on would serve as the best location for now. She has since worked to sort out inspections and permits for the small shop. She admits it has proven a trying process, but remains excited as opening day draws near.
"It's been pins and needles for, gosh, it's been seven months now," she says. "[But] once the permitting process is completed, it should go pretty quick."
Dreams aren't easy. They take patience. They're fickle and hard-fought.
"Right now, it's pink tape," she says. "That's what we got." ♦