Dockside Cannabis, like many companies, has humble origins and deep roots in the local community. Dockside has worked hard to maintain both our humility and our roots while building greater trust and expanding our horizons. This is our story.
Aaron Varney, Maria Moses, & Oscar Velasco-Schmitz are the heart and soul of Dockside Cannabis, and the reason our company exists. All of them stem from backgrounds in either business, technology, or both- and their unique stories are what brought Dockside to life!
Aaron and Maria first met at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute (now Presidio Graduate School) which was the first school in the nation to offer a degree in sustainable business. In Maria’s words, the program was “full of dreamers; people who had been in the business world and were dissatisfied with the pursuit of profit driving everything”.
Maria and Oscar met while working for Microsoft in the early 2000’s. At the time, a large portion of the people who worked in tech were cannabis smokers, but the culture surrounding it was quiet and many people kept their use to themselves. After having seen that cannabis was a valuable tool to building/strengthening community ties, Oscar began his career as a “cannabis evangelist” and began tirelessly working to normalize use and end negative stigmas surrounding the plant.
In 2009, Oscar had been advocating for cannabis rights for years and was able to establish lasting relationships with people and policymakers like city attorney Pete Holmes, which helped to shape bits of the conversation around what cannabis policy for Washington could look like. He later connected Maria with someone who ran a medical collective (but was looking to get out of the industry) in 2010, and the two of them agreed to move forward with their own cannabis shop – but a crucial component was missing. Maria introduced Aaron, who had been connecting people to the plant since the early 2000’s, to Oscar, and the rest went down in Dockside history.
When deciding what kind of cannabis business Aaron, Maria and Oscar wanted to build, some points came up: there were very few medical cannabis shops owned by women and/or minorities, and there were very few places that felt wholesome or safe to shop in. The goal was to build a place where everyone was included and everyone was welcome: the type of place you’d feel comfortable bringing your parents or grandparents to visit. Dockside aims to not only be the best in the industry, but the best for the industry.
Our lotus logo, as well as the name Dockside, arose from the desire to cultivate a certain state of mind surrounding our brand. The lotus represents growth, rebirth, and new experiences; “dockside” is a place that is both a launching point from which to explore the rest of the world, and a safe harbor to return to.
Dockside Co-op opened its doors in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood on March 9th, 2011 and was open until June 21st, 2016 when it had to close due to zoning issues that left us unable to acquire a retail license for that location. However, thanks to the concurrent running of our medical co-op and our medically-endorsed retail locations in Shoreline and SoDo, Dockside is now the longest-running medically-affiliated cannabis shop in Washington. With the opening of our third and fourth stores in the Ballard and Greenlake neighborhoods in 2018, The Dockside story is coming full-circle… but we are nowhere near done writing it!
In the era of retail cannabis in Washington, establishing trust between a customer and a shop is a challenge. Dockside’s dedication to being a trustworthy access point for our customers leads to ensuring that we only carry producers/brands we believe in. The products we carry are based on relationships, not price points- because we believe that great people produce great product.
Our stance is this: if you love people and you love cannabis, Dockside is probably the place for you!