Only one I-502 marijuana retailer has been able to open to serve the 650,000 or so residents of Seattle — and the closest licensed shop to Capitol Hill is still nowhere close to opening. But there are still a few potrepreneurs in our midst and, possibly, a few pot jobs to be had.
Dave Meinert, a partner in several Pike/Pine concerns and a leader in the city’s nightlife scene who has taken on a more active civic presence after his heavy involvement in the minimum wage negotiations, tells CHS he is part of a new start-up seeking to address the challenges of processing, distribution, and packaging for the state’s growing ranks of marijuana growers.
“It’s hard to start a new industry,” Meinert said. “I’m excited to be part of it. If I would have been around when they were making whiskey legal, I would have been in on it.”
While his new venture won’t be able to put the old bootlegger tunnels beneath Pike/Pine to work, Meinert said he and the business partners behind Torch Northwest expect to be more than middle men.
“You’ll see the brand here,” Meinert said. “It’s important to me that we have a Seattle presence.”
But things will start in Tacoma where Torch is based as part of the Commencement Bay family of marijuana ventures headed by Tyler Severy, a former fence construction entrepreneur who has been studying and planning his marijuana-based business since before I-502 was approved. Joining Severy and Meinert will be Dave Easely, a veteran of beer and wine distribution and a financial wiz, Meinert said.
Meinert’s role? Always the showman, Meinert says he’ll deal with marketing and raising capital. He’s also dealing with hiring workers to assist with everything from the trim to processing.
Pot jobs were also on the table last Friday at Broadway’s Silver Cloud Hotel. The Cannabusiness Accelerator held what it said was the state’s first “cannabis industry job fair.” Job seekers for roles including budtender, trimmers, security, software/IT, “master grower,” and “labs & testing” met with contracting firms like Green Leaf Management that have quickly sprouted to serve the industry.
Meanwhile, expectations for industry growth are high. The state is expecting to rake in about $636 million a year in taxes on cannabis by 2019.
The Torch vision, Meinert says, is to be expert and state-of-the-art in the packaging and marketing of marijuana for growers who are finding their hands full trying to simply produce the drug.
“It’s more difficult than it sounds,” Meinert says of the producer end of the I-502 equation. “For a lot of them, it’s a big hassle.”
In the meantime, Torch will also be able to work with Commencement’s own grow operations producing in-house marijuana.
With his Pike/Pine investments — Big Mario’s in 2010, Lost Lake in 2013, and (CHS advertiser) the Comet in 2014 — seemingly humming along and his home in Burien so he won’t find any Tacoma commutes that unbearable, Meinert is ready for a new venture.
“It’s exciting to be involved in a new industry and kind of do a start-up in that,” he said.
He said he expects Torch, like the implementation of I-502, to take some time to grow.
“Everything is starting slow,” he said. “And everybody is trying to get in. Eventually you’ll see Torch everywhere.”
You can learn more at torchnw.com.