Pictured: The staff at the Factoria Green Theory retail location. From left, Ari Emadi, Charlie Naughton and Marina Bridenbaugh. For story, see page 6. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

Pictured: The staff at the Factoria Green Theory retail location. From left, Ari Emadi, Charlie Naughton and Marina Bridenbaugh. For story, see page 6. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

Kirkland-based Higher Leaf acquires Green Theory locations in Bellevue

Recreational cannabis retailer Higher Leaf has announced the acquisition of Green Theory in Bellevue.

The two largest marijuana retailers on the Eastside, Higher Leaf and Green Theory, have announced an official merger.

Higher Leaf owner Molly Honig recently closed on the purchase of the two Green Theory locations in November.

Green Theory opened in 2014 and was the first marijuana retailer in the city of Bellevue. Initially located on Main Street in downtown Bellevue, Green Theory eventually moved to a new location in Factoria and opened a second store in the Bel-Red area. Higher Leaf opened its first location in Kirkland in 2015 and has since opened a second location in Bellevue’s Eastgate area.

Honig, owner and founder of Higher Leaf, said the cannabis industry is moving toward consolidation of licenses and in order to remain competitive as an industry leader, the business needed to grow. Because Green Theory is located in Bellevue, it made the decision to acquire the business much easier since operations would be much more convenient to manage.

Becoming a larger company will also allow the business to scale up some efficiencies in their operation costs, advertising and management, which can allow Honig and her team to work on passing some of the savings back to the customer.

Green Theory will not re-brand at first, she said. Honig wants to maintain consistent brands and relationships with their customers. There are some differences in the products each store offers and those unique elements will remain.

Negotiation processes started up six months ago, Honig said, and state approval of the purchase was a lengthy and intense process as well. Ownership transfer was approved by the state on Nov. 29.

The team of employees has also grown to about 75 people, she said. While there has been some shifting in titles for consistency in the back-end, realigning all of the operations has been moving slowly and deliberately. Honig said she is looking forward to 2019, during which efforts to create a consistent employment experience for all 75 employees will continue.

In a press release, the acquisition of Green Theory is described as the possibly the single largest purchase of a recreational cannabis business in the state. These types of acquisitions are uncommon, Honig said, because of restrictions from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis regarding how many licenses one owner can have. The state has increased the total number of licenses that one can own from three to five and are considering further increases.

The state also prohibits investment and funding from out of state as well. Honig believes that as federal legalization comes closer to becoming a reality, out of state funding would be one of the next steps, which would lead to major consolidations of brands and stores.

For more on Green Theory and Higher Leaf, visit green-theory.com and higherleaf.com.

The Factoria location of Green Theory. The business will retain the branding in the foreseeable future to preserve consistency with the customer base. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

The Factoria location of Green Theory. The business will retain the branding in the foreseeable future to preserve consistency with the customer base. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

More in Business

Business alliance serves women of African diaspora in King County

Nourah Yonous launched the African Women Business Alliance in 2017 to find ways to lift women up.

Adding credentials can recession proof your career

Look at hard skills and soft skills to see where there may be a gap.

Chiropractic instrument takes the crack out of spinal adjustment

Disc Centers of America Bellevue uses the Impulse iQ for comfort and results

Winter chill begins to settle into real estate market

While there was an uptick in new listings, pending home sales and sold properties the last two months, things are quieting down.

Armoire opens second location in Kirkland. Armoire is a start-up company that is based in Seattle and has branched out to the Eastside. Unlike most retail stores, Armoire rents their clothing to their customers through a membership. Photo courtesy of Armoire
Armoire opens second location in Kirkland

Retail stores are adapting to modern working women and their needs.

Anko opens doors at new Kirkland location

The retail chain can also be found in Lynnwood, Bellevue, Mill Creek and Burien.

PupPod owner Erick Eidus won the crowd favorite award and received $500 from the Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce during last year’s Kirkland Investor Sharks. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Investor Shark continues with the tradition to help fund Kirkland startups

The event will also feature a teen startup team from LWSD.

E-liquid ban hits Kirkland vape store hard

Vape Savvy used to see 30-40 customers daily. Now, they’re luck if the store sees five.

Bombaii Cutters of Kirkland continues a Halloween tradition

The community staple has been putting on the contest for several years.

Recession proofing your career

The best time to prepare for an economic downturn is when the job market is strong.

Kirkland real estate market transitions into fall

There may be less competition than last year but well-priced homes in great locations can still garner more than one offer.