With the business side of marijuana building a grey market and pot dispensaries popping up across the city, progressive Capitol Hill isn’t going to let its challenging business environment get in the way. Pike/Pine will soon join the wave of entrepreneurial marijuana industry blooming across Seattle, CHS has learned.
Facilities to acquire sinsemilla have existed on Capitol Hill’s counter-culture streets for generations but rising rents, for one, have squeezed most off the Hill. Just last year, we’re told, a longtime provider to the medical marijuana scene was forced to close its facility on Broadway after losing its lease.
Philip Dawdy, media and policy director for the Washington Cannabis Association, says the “old-timer” marijuana crowd is still at work on the Hill with plans of developing a new facility on 15th Ave E but that our area is about to get a taste of the entrepreneurial generation that has been busy creating dispensaries on the city’s edges in areas like Aurora and Sodo. “What you’re going to see on Capitol Hill is the beginning of the new medical marijuana coming to the Hill,” Dawdy tells CHS.
The Capitol Hill Patient Group will be located in the east of Pike/Pine and is planned to showcase many of the attributes of the new era dispensaries: selection, convenience and safety.
“It’s arguably going to be the first on Capitol Hill,” Dawdy said. “A new dispensary in the east end of Pike/Pine is coming soon. It’s not a commercial enterprise. These are non-profit collectives.”
They also are growing like, yes, weeds. Late in 2010, The Stranger’s Dominic Holden documented the growing industry around pot in Seattle:
After years of a below-the-radar movement, medical marijuana activists are essentially daring the law to evolve to keep up with them. And more remarkable, their allies in Olympia and prosecutors in King County are trying to make these dispensaries legit.
But it was not like this even a year ago. These groups are thriving in response to more lenient federal enforcement, gray areas in state law, and an uptick in the number of legal marijuana consumers.
The Stranger has also been leading the coverage of proposals at the state level to make operating pot stores in Washington legal. But the mainstreaming of medical marijuana has moved the topic far beyond Seattle’s leading calendar rag. The Seattle Weekly has started a weekly Toke Signals (get it?) column covering the movement. This guy even left the high-flying world of hyperlocal journalism to focus full-time on a Pacific Northwest-focused marijuana magazine.
The reasons for slow growth on cutting-edge Capitol Hill are also some of the reasons other creative business endeavors struggle on the Hill. High rent and landlord concerns are the easy explanations, Dawdy says. The demographics of the Hill are also likely factors as older customers are more likely to have conditions that will qualify them for medical treatment. Younger people are also still in the habit of acquiring from the black market. And, some would say, pot faces more competition from other forms of mind-altering substances available from fine providers across Capitol Hill and nearby neighborhoods.
Potlocator.com illustrates the void
But there are also more people providing services in the space emerging as legitimate businesses and organizations. 15th Ave East’s Advanced Green Therapeutics provides qualification and referral services for people seeking to smoke marijuana medicinally. The registered nurse behind Advanced Green declined to be named in this article because she doesn’t want to expose her employer to attention from the still relatively unique practice but tells us she’s not hiding. “If you call my number, I use my name. I’m just not trying to come off as a spokesperson,” she said.
UPDATE: We wanted to provide a clarification sent to us by Advanced Green:
You mentioned in the artice that I was a registered nurse, which of course I am, but I am also and advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP). I write recommendations as an ARNP not as an RN. RNs can not write such recommendations under their license, you must also be an ARNP.
There is stigma around medical marijuana. Pot can still get you arrested. And instances such as this dispensary hold-up in Fremont add fuel to concerns that the high-value product will attract criminal activity — though it seems like the same concerns ought to be on display regarding areapharmacies.
The nurse tells CHS she works with between 5 and 10 patients a week — most from outside the city. “I just felt like it was something I wanted to offer,” she said. “A lot of patients face judgement when they go to their provider.”
She also said there is demand for a more visible market for medical marijuana customers. “Once, they leave with their recommendation, the law prohibits me from aiding with what comes next,” she said. “They’re a bit on their own honestly. I’m hoping that the state will make it easier to get the medicine needed.”
The new dispensary wave is ready to meet that demand.
“The central core of the city has been underserved,” Dawdy said. “Everybody knows that the state law is about to change. There’s a lot of anticipation out there.”