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July 10, 2014
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Merry Jane owner aims to raise awareness with Grass Valley cannabis boutique

Local marijuana activist and Plan It Solar founder Martin Webb has opened Merry Jane, a Grass Valley cannabis boutique which began selling products to the public last week.

Located on the 400 block of Colfax Avenue in Grass Valley, the more than 1,700-square-foot boutique sells practical items for the cannabis user and nonuser alike, providing marijuana storage containers; clothes; books; games; cards; art; and personal-care products related to cannabis, such as lotions and hair products.

“This isn’t just some place for pot-smoking hippies or young stoner dudes, which is what people are automatically thinking,” Webb said. “Instead, it’s intended to raise awareness in the community to create a safer community. I’m not supporting any youth use of marijuana. I wanted to make sure it was a high-class establishment that was supporting responsible adult use while also delivering a message of keeping it away from kids.”

Webb is on the steering committee of the Coalition for a Drug-Free Nevada County, whose sole purpose and mission is to keep drugs away from kids. Webb says being a part of the group has influenced him to include products in his boutique that contribute to their cause.

“For parents concerned about pot use with their children, I’ve got drug test kits for $10, so if parents are concerned about their children are perhaps experimenting, or kids that are struggling and need to be held to task for operating a clean lifestyle, they can use these,” Webb said. “I’ve also got a safe storage room where we’ve got child-proof bottles and safe containers so kids can’t get to it.”

So far, Webb’s top-selling items have been personal-care items such as organic lotion made from hemp seed oil and moisturizing products made by HEMPZ.

“The important thing for me is to make sure the community understands what this is because people are thinking it’s a dispensary or a smoke shop selling paraphernalia,” Webb said. “It’s similar to a hemp store but it’s more than just focusing on the industrial uses of hemp. It’s not just a store carrying burlap-type clothing. Instead it’s just a bunch of high quality products.”

The majority of the products sold at Merry Jane were acquired online, Webb says, including cookie cutters and baking pans in the shape of pot leaves used as indicators for people to know when baked goods contain marijuana in them and trim stations made from recyclable materials, designed in Grass Valley.

“There’s nothing like this in the area,” Webb said. “There are some stores that have little nooks of pot-related stuff, but what I did is, I took all the little things that are in various locations and I aggregated them all together into a nice, high-class establishment that people can be comfortable coming into.”

Originally from Arlington, Va., Webb, 43, moved to Nevada County in 1998 after having gone through a personal struggle with addiction.

“I was a homeless heroin addict,” Webb said. “I found myself surrounded by friends doing drugs, I had easy access, I had low self-esteem, I even tried to kill myself once, I tried to overdose. When I began using marijuana, it was actually a stepping stone back from the edge.”

Webb added, “People say that marijuana is a gateway drug to stronger drugs, but it’s not. Prohibition is a gateway policy that puts people in touch with harder drugs. But for me, and for a lot of folks, marijuana is a gateway back from strong opiates, pain killers and other medications they are taking.”

In Nevada County, though, Webb said he found a community that encouraged him to safely use marijuana, which helped him move forward as a business owner running multimillion dollar solar companies.

“So this notion when people smoke marijuana they become lazy and unproductive, that’s another patently false thing,” Webb said. “There’s nothing about smoking pot that holds people back, and for a lot of people, it helps them move forward in their lives.”

Webb says that the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana in Colorado and Washington state helps to legitimize stores that sell hemp and cannabis products. But in opening Merry Jane, Webb said he was very careful not to align his boutique with politics.

“I’m not a dispensary, not looking to be a dispensary, and a business trying to do that is intimately connected to the politics,” Webb said. “If I was a grow store and suddenly no one was allowed to grow in the community, well then, I’d be worried. Because I’m selling skin products and shirts, as long as people have a body, then my products still apply.”

Webb added, “That being said, I know as the social and legal acceptance of cannabis grows more and more, people will discover that it can be a valuable substance in various ways. It’s definitely something I hope to be ahead of the curve on.”

With the possibility of a change in order toward marijuana use, Webb says opening his boutique feels like it’s the right place at the right time.

“Most people have been really receptive to it. The ones who haven’t do not really understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it,” Webb said. “For me, this is to raise the awareness in the community so that we can have a broader discussion, so we can continue to move a policy forward that will better serve the community.”

Webb added, “I’m trying to help bridge the divide between the past, which was prohibition, and the future, which is legalization, and I’m here to try and gently help the community, lead them forward.”

To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email inatividad@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.


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The Union Updated Jul 11, 2014 10:41AM Published Jul 12, 2014 12:06AM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.