Driving north from Spokane along Highway 231 you’ll pass through the small town of Valley, Washington. If you stop here, you might feel like you’ve stepped back in time. You might even feel your “soul sparked.” For that is exactly how Wayne Fort describes how his new home spoke to him when he and his wife Wendy arrived in Valley four years ago. Wayne and Wendy came to Valley to open their cannabis retail shop, Access Canibus. In the four years since arriving in Valley, they’ve come to love the town, the community, and the beauty of Stevens County.
Both Navy veterans, Wayne and Wendy’s journey to business owners in Valley is long and complicated, but worth it to them to have found their beloved community. After being stationed together in various cities, they chose to move to Yakima when given the opportunity in 2003 because “Washington has so much to offer.”
In 2006, they received orders to Hawaii. While in Hawaii, Wendy completed two overseas deployments, once to Iraq with the U.S. Army. Afterwards, she was medically discharged from the service for chronic pain and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In 2013, they returned to Washington. Marijuana had just become legalized in Washington. Wendy discovered that marijuana provided great relief from her symptoms, even allowing her to reduce the “long list of medications” she had been prescribed. This success gave Wayne and Wendy the idea of starting their own cannabis business, in hopes that they could help others. Not sure where to go in Washington, they bought an RV and drove around for a few months, trying to get “the lay of the land.” They ended up in Ocean Shores where they applied through the lottery system for a license to distribute marijuana. The good news for them was that they got chosen to receive a license. The bad news was they had little capital to finance their investment. The even-worse news was their business partners who were to help with the financing turned out to be less than savory, leading to the loss of their license.
The fall and winter of 2013-2014 did have its highlights for Wayne and Wendy. They attended every Seahawks home game that season leading up to a Superbowl run.
In a lucky twist of fate, through the legal proceedings that ensued after losing their license to distribute marijuana, they met their current business partners. This led to a second chance at a store. In another lucky turn, per allotments of distribution shops, Wayne and Wendy’s business location was required to be in Stevens County. Four years later they couldn’t be happier with the fate that landed them in Valley. Wayne speaks fondly of the slower pace and the “down-to-earth people” in the community, as well as the natural beauty of the mountains and lakes. He’s also a fan of the distinct four seasons we enjoy here on the east side of Washington.
As business owners, Wayne and Wendy’s main goals have been to become members of the community and to help their fellow community members. They understand that people shopping at Access Canibus can lack knowledge about the products and feel overwhelmed by the choices. That’s where Wayne and Wendy do their favorite work. They can provide personal service, answer questions, and help people make the “best decisions for themselves.” Wayne especially enjoys hearing peoples’ stories. “I really love that,” he admits. He also enjoys helping out-of-state visitors, usually tourists. And while rules and regulations prevent Wayne and Wendy from offering medical recommendations regarding their products, they do provide products that can provide relief for a variety of medical conditions. Vast amounts of research exist on the medical and health benefits of cannabis, and marijuana has been prescribed for countless patients. For example, marijuana has been proven to help people with chronic pain, nausea in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, glaucoma, PTSD, anxiety, and the list goes on and on.
Wayne and Wendy find it incredibly rewarding to hear stories from people who have benefited from their products. For example, customers come in and share that they were able to participate in some enjoyable activity that they couldn’t before using one of the products. One elderly customer was even able to have greater quality of life in her final months because she was able to cut back enough on her medications to communicate with family lucidly.
One of the many bonuses of having a shop in a small town is that Wayne and Wendy can provide the kind of customer service that really helps people. Wayne says that he tells people to take all the time they need to explore the many options they provide in their store. There’s no hurry until another customer is in line. “And there usually isn’t,” Wayne laughs.
Ironically, Wayne and Wendy were finally called for their “dream come true” to be Seahawk’s season ticket holders for the 2020-2021 season. “Then COVID hit, and no one was able to attend any games. It’s bittersweet, but there’s always next year. We’ve learned good things happen to those who plan…and wait,” says Wayne.
Whether you’re a Seahawks fan or not, you might just want to make a special trip to visit the picturesque town of Valley, stop in at Access Canibus, and say “hi” to Wayne and Wendy.