Marijuana powered media company Top Tree puts down roots on Capitol Hill

14344906_1751160281801142_1287610356336041428_nThis post has been updated with information from Top Tree’s management

A new media venture powered by Seattle’s burgeoning legal cannabis culture is hard at work on Capitol Hill in a space that was once home to an upstart campaign headquarters and an equally rebellious drag queen-inspired cosmetics company.

Top Tree, a marijuana-focused culture magazine and digital advertising agency, has quietly moved into the overhauled retail space at Pike and Boylston formerly home to the Bernie Sanders campaign’s Seattle headquarters and, before that, Jen’s House of Beauty. Glimpses of the now-bustling office can be seen through the art wrap-coated windows. A new keyless security panel guards the front door that had become a favorite camping spot for people on the street in the months since the campaign workers departed earlier this year.

“It’s definitely changed,” Top Tree director of operations Benito Ybarra tells CHS of the neighborhood he grew up hanging out in. “But to be represented on Capitol Hill and on Pike Street specifically, we’re very proud of that.”

While its office space is secreted away, Top Tree’s presence on Capitol Hill is unmissable. The company has been responsible for the series of large murals on the E Pike wall of Neumos since summer — including a recent edition featuring Mariner great and Seattle icon Ken Griffey Jr. Meanwhile, stacks of the free zine-sized publication with day glo colors, a healthy selection of local advertising, and trippy cover imagery can be found in cafes and shops across the neighborhood and beyond.

“I always believed in being physically real for people,” Ybarra said.

Continue reading

Uncle Ikes — and Angel’s Shoe Repair — now open on Capitol Hill

Eisenberg inside the new shop Friday morning (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Eisenberg inside the new shop Friday morning (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Seattle’s largest pot purveyor and the city’s oldest shoe cobbler are finally ready to make their improbable double-header debut on Capitol Hill.

Ian Eisenberg opened his third Uncle Ike’s marijuana shop at 15th and E Republican Friday at 8 AM while Ray Angel debuted his re-opened Angel’s Shoe Repair next door after closing last year.

Eisenberg said he expects his Capitol Hill shop, the neighborhood’s second, will be less of a destination than the first Uncle Ike’s on 23rd and Union. “Probably more of a neighborhood feel, more people walking in because there’s less parking,” he said. Continue reading

Uncle Ike’s Capitol Hill, the neighborhood’s second retail pot shop, opens Friday

(Image: Uncle Ike's via Twitter)

(Image: Uncle Ike’s via Twitter)

The largest pot retailer in Seattle — and the second largest I-502 shop in the state — is set to open its Capitol Hill expansion.

Uncle Ike’s announced Monday that its 15th Ave E location will be open for business starting Friday. Continue reading

More change around 15th Ave E pot: Postal Plus will close shop in March

March 31st to be exact. That’s when owner Ed Zhang said he will close the 15th Ave E’s neighborhood’s Postal Plus after running the “contract postal unit” and retailer for 17 years. It could also present an opportunity for 15th Ave’s current pot shop to expand ahead of a major competitor opening across the street.

Zhang tells CHS he was recently notified by the building’s owner that rent at the 15th and Republican space would be doubling to match market value. The math to stay open, Zhang said, did not add up.

The US Post Office pays contract retailers like Zhang a flat fee, regardless of other expenses, to independently run a de-facto post office with the ability to offer other services. While the shop includes mailboxes, a UPS and FedEx drop-off, a notary, and retail component offering books and gifts, Zhang said those services would not be enough to cover the rent hike. Continue reading

With over 100 years of service, Angel’s Shoe Repair (and new friend Uncle Ike) planning end of month re-opening

The new look at 15th and Republican is finally nearing the end of construction (Image: CHS)

The new look at 15th and Republican is finally nearing the end of construction (Image: CHS)



“No, we haven’t talked about that,” Ray Angel tells CHS in response to our jackass-level question about whether his about to re-open 105-year-old Seattle shoe repair business is planning any, um, joint promotions with new landlord Uncle Ike’s.

Growing accustom to dumb pot jokes will only be part of the changes the Angel’s Shoe Repair cobbler will face when his shop in the overhauled building at 15th and Republican opens soon.

“It’s really a great thing he’s done for me,” Angel said about Ian Eisenberg’s offer to lease a small portion of the building where he is building the new Capitol Hill pot shop. Angel said he will have his own entrance and will be fully separated from the high security retail cannabis operation. He’ll have a little less space than his old location on E Republican but will fill the shop with his old machines and cobbler gear. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s outlaw bike-powered pot delivery service is shutting down

winterlifeAfter three improbable years, Capitol Hill’s marijuana delivery service is putting the brakes on its bike-powered co-op. Club Raccoons is still taking orders, but the co-op’s organizer says the operation will grind to a halt sometime this summer.

With an active Twitter presence and daily menu postings on Craigslist, the Raccoons made headlines in 2013 for openly advertising pot delivery that was as easy as ordering a pizza. It was also illegal, according to law enforcement officials. Continue reading

Happy 4/20? Protest again targets Central District’s Uncle Ike’s

With Bryan Cohen and Alex Garland reporting

Protesters targeted 23rd and Union’s Uncle Ike’s I-502 marijuana shop Wednesday afternoon, disrupting business on 4/20, the biggest stoner shopping day of the year.

“The most important thing he could do, and I know this is harsh, is move,” performer Draze told the large assembly of media as groups met at Garfleld Community Center for the march a few blocks north to Uncle Ike’s.

Draze’s recently released album features Irony on 23rd, a scathing rap about Uncle Ike’s owner Ian Eisenberg and the history of segregation and heavy anti-drug policing in the area.

Draze tells CHS that he has been told accounts of the impact of increased marijuana use on students at Garfield High. “We have seen an uptick in marijuana use since he’s been there,” Draze said he has been told.

“That directly ties to the issue we’re talking about.”

As he watched a few dozen protesters link arms to block of his 4/20 party entrance Wednesday, Eisenberg was mostly nonplussed.

“Hey, it’s 4/20, everybody should be having fun celebrating,” Eisenberg told CHS. The business owner and real estate investor has made I-502 retail a major part of his recent investments as a new Capitol Hill shop is set to open in a building Eisenberg owns on 15th Ave E. Continue reading

Notes from an EastPAC community discussion on pot

Plead the Spliff

The East Precinct learns about weed

Last week, East Precinct community members heard from and asked questions of a panel of city and state officials regarding the condition of Washington’s developing legal recreational marijuana market.

From the community conversation with the East Precinct Advisory Council-convened panel of experts, there is still a fair amount of confusion and regulatory kinks to be worked out in the recreational marijuana system established by Initiative 502 back in 2012.

“With liquor, we’d been doing this for 70 years with a lot of [legal] changes so it’s not an overnight fix,”said Justin Nordhorn, enforcement chief with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB). “We hope people will bear with us as this progresses.”

Nordhorn said that the WSLCB has licensed 800 producers and processors across the state, and has around 500 slots for licensed recreational marijuana retail stores across the state. So far, 250 are licensed with 209 currently in business. Seattle, as of right now, has 45 licensed retail stores, though only a fraction of those are currently making sales. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s last dispensary fights medical phaseout process — UPDATE: Uncle Ike’s White Center?

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 7.14.04 AMWith no recreational marijuana license in hand, the owner of Capitol Hill’s last remaining medical marijuana dispensary is preparing to close his doors for good. Shy Sadis said Starbuds could be closing at 23rd and E John as early as next month, but he’s vowing to continue a legal battle with the state over it’s decision not to award him a new I-502 license.

Long standing, law abiding medical marijuana dispensary owners expected to be at the front of the line when the state began its latest round of issuing recreational pot licenses. That’s because to fully phase out the medical marijuana system by July, the state Legislature passed a bill to give those shop owners priority to transition to recreational pot businesses. Under the new system, patients will purchase tax-exempt medical marijuana at recreational shops that have a medical endorsement starting July 1st. Home growers and cooperatives will also have to scale back.

In January, Seattle was allocated 21 new recreational licenses, all of which have been issued or are in the final stages of approval, according to the state Liquor and Cannabis Board.

After opening his first Seattle dispensary in 2010 and Starbuds in 2013, Sadis said he thought he would be a shoo-in for a recreational license. He was wrong, and now Sadis, who also owns The Joint Cooperative in the U-District, is facing the possibility of having to leave marijuana retailing all together. Continue reading

Second Capitol Hill pot shop approved for 15th Ave

IMG_5911The owner of Uncle Ike’s Pot Shop may finally realize his aspirations to open a recreational marijuana store in his 15th and Republican building, even if the business itself isn’t his.

A West Seattle medical marijuana entrepreneur has been given the green light by the state Liquor and Cannabis Board to open a retail marijuana shop in the space last home to the Capitol Hill Family Arcade.

The permit approval for Lion’s Heart puts owner Daniela Bernhard one step closer to opening Capitol Hill’s second pot shop in a building owned by fellow potreprenuer Ian Eisenberg. Bernhard was a co-owner of the Northwest Patient Resource Center in West Seattle prior to moving ahead with her Capitol Hill business.

Bernhard did not respond to CHS requests for comment and Eisenberg said he could not comment on the approval. Continue reading

‘Gentrification stops here’ — MLK march ‘splinter’ group targets Central District pot shop

Protesters outside Uncle Ike's (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Protesters outside Uncle Ike’s (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Around 300 people splintered from the planned MLK Day march at Garfield High School and rushed to 23rd and Union to surround the retail pot shop Uncle Ike’s Monday afternoon.

As around 5,000 marchers headed downtown along the planned route, the splinter group of hundreds and a contingent of Seattle Police officers following it wound its way through the busy construction activity in the 23rd Ave corridor. Chanting “Black lives matter,” the crowd assembled itself surrounding the Uncle Ike’s buildings on the northeast corner of the 23/Union intersection.

Meanwhile, thousands of students, activists, officials, and community members proceeded downtown through First Hill for planned rallies at the Federal Building. While waiting for the march to start at Garfield, Vanita Clark told CHS she has been coming to Seattle’s MLK Day events for most of her life. As a lifelong Capitol Hill resident who raised her children in the neighborhood, Clark said she was marching for rent control and fair housing as she has watched the African American community dwindle over the years.

“Our daughter grew up on Capitol Hill, but she had to move to Tacoma,” Clark said.

In 2015, the massive march — one of the largest MLK Day marches in the nation — was marred by a violent response from SPD officers to a smaller protest that followed the main march and rally. In 2016, it appears the push for a secondary protest beyond the planned MLK activities was to be centered in the Central District. Continue reading

Ready for medical marijuana changes, Seattle makes more room for pot

As the state moves forward with its plans to move Washington’s largely unregulated medical marijuana system into its highly regulated and — highly taxed — retail system, Seattle has put new rules into place to better distribute thew stores across the city.

In a unanimous vote Monday afternoon, the Seattle City Council voted to approve a relaxed buffer to keep marijuana stores away from schools and parks and better regulation to prevent “Little Amsterdams” from popping up around the city due to the early restrictions placed on the industry.

The newly approved downtown pot producer and processor zones

The newly approved downtown pot producer and processor zones

Key to the new rules will be the newly relaxed 500-foot buffer for community spaces like transit centers, libraries, and parks. The existing 1000-foot buffer will remain in place for schools and playgrounds. Meanwhile, a more efficient “dispersion” amendment was also added to the legislation Monday that will establish a 1000-foot buffer wherever “two existing retail Major Marijuana Activity” business are located. The change will prevent the clustering of more than two marijuana retailers within the space of four to five city blocks. One additional amendment also passed will likely please downtown real estate owners — a downtown zone with a relaxed 250-foot buffer was created for marijuana producers and processors that could boost the industry’s presence in the approved areas.

“We are at the leading edge of a new industry. We’re trying our best to get this right,” the legislation’s author Council member Mike O’Brien said Monday before the vote approving the new rules. Continue reading