The Central District gets a second pot shop as Ponder opens at 24th and Union

10408718_956712814387781_7547585377064894305_nAs the 15th Ave E pot drama rolls on, a second pot shop in the heart of the Central District has quietly opened without protest or video arcades.

Since August 14th, Ponder has been open sporadically inside a revamped retail space at 24th and Union. Owner John Branch tells CHS he wanted to get the store well stocked before hosting a grand opening, ideally sometime in the next month.

With many shops selling products from the same growers and manufacturers, Branch said he’ll make Ponder stand out through tried-and-true small businesses practices.

“It comes down to good old fashioned retailing,” he said. “Do I like those guys in there, do they carry what I like?”

Ponder will be open for part of the day Friday and most of the day Saturday, Branch said. Look out for more regular hours after Labor Day.

As of this week Ponder holds the bottom sales spot among I-502 retailers in King County with $20 in August sales. Just up Union, Uncle Ike’s reported $1.3 million. The shop, which opened one year ago this month, is the top store in the county by sales and was second in the state overall in August behind only Vancouver’s Main Street Marijuana, according to Uncle Ike’s is a CHS advertiser.

In King County, $3.6 million in pot tax was collected in August (Source:

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 9.34.13 PM

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 9.33.54 PM

Ponder makes 19 retail marijuana shops operating in the city and it is the 34th in the county. Continue reading

With Central District I-502 retail a $1M+ a month business, 15th Ave E pot shop maneuverings play out

The free-play Capitol Hill Family Arcade has to be one of the more peculiar manifestations of Seattle's pot economy (Images:  Capitol Hill Family Arcade)

The free-play Capitol Hill Family Arcade has to be one of the more peculiar manifestations of Seattle’s pot economy (Images: Capitol Hill Family Arcade)

There will not be a pot shop ready for business in time for the 15th Ave E Merchants Association’s 2015 Sidewalk Fest. The ongoing saga of who will open Capitol Hill’s first recreational pot shop has hit a bureaucratic lull. Two competing potreprenuers on 15th Ave E are waiting to obtain licenses from the state as two other businesses in the mix — a third generation cobbler and a punk rock arcade/ice cream shop — await permits from the City.

Ian Eisenberg tells CHS he plans to apply for a new I-502 license next year to open a second Uncle Ike’s pot shop in his building at 15th Ave E and E Republican.

“The more time I spend on 15th, the more I love it,” Eisenberg said. “I really want to open second shop there.”

The 15th Ave E Merchant Association has an interesting year ahead

The 15th Ave E Merchant Association has an interesting year ahead

For now, Eisenberg is operating the Capitol Hill Family Arcade — a business that he says was a quick and fun way to activate the space while he waits to open a pot shop.

But for Sam Burke, an I-502 permit holder who’s attempting to open tok pot shop across the street, the arcade was simply a maneuver to keep his doors shut. Under state zoning regulations, I-502 shops cannot be located within a 1,000-foot buffer of places where children gather, like schools, parks, and arcades (those rules could soon change with new zoning authority available to local municipalities). Continue reading

Last of the Hill area collectives, Best Buds has one year to sort out new medical pot rules

With the tussle over who will become the first I-502 marijuana retailer to open on Capitol Hill continuing on 15th Ave E, the area’s last of the old school medical marijuana collectives Best Buds is trying to raise funds to stay in business at 23rd and Madison.

Friday, a roster of new laws regulating medial marijuana went into effect in Washington including the official new name for the state liquor board:

For medical pot, the big change doesn’t happen until July 1st, 2016 when the medical system is rolled into the new retail system and collectives and co-ops are shuttered.

While other groups have closed their doors on Capitol Hill, Best Buds continues to operate in its E Madison space. And owner Jiovani McKelvy is hoping Best Buds’ buds will step up to help “save our store”5165215_1435962542.991

Please support a gay-owned local business get back on its feet! A year ago, Ian Vogue opened Best Buds, an MMJ Dispensary in Seattle, Washington. His partner and two of his friends run this quaint, LGBT friendly shop of treasures and treats every day where each patient is consindered a Bud! Their small business unfortunately fell victim of two separate robberies and has had to make major cutbacks in addition to getting a loan in order to continue providing much needed medicine to their valued patients. Best Buds is now turning to the community. Even a dollar helps! Thank you for taking the time to read this and please share with your friends!

We’ve asked Best Buds for more information about the plans for the operation going forward but haven’t yet heard back.

In February, US Marshals assisted Seattle Police in nailing the suspect in an armed robbery at Best Buds that netted more than $10,000 in pot. We’ll have more information about that case soon.

With the number of I-502 permits remaining constricted, the business competition between two marijuana entrepreneurs vying to open at 15th and Republican took a surreal turn earlier this month with the opening of a “family arcade” on the corner. Last we checked, the arcade remained open as the project looks to obtain the necessary permits to make a new space for longtime 15th Ave E cobbler Ray Angel.

Only two of Seattle’s 85 pot tickets handed out in East Precinct

Seattle Police issued 85 tickets for public marijuana use in the second half of 2014 — but only two in the East Precinct including Capitol Hill and the Central District. Meanwhile, males and blacks were disproportionately cited for public pot violations.

The statistics were discussed in a Monday morning City Council briefing with Chief Kathleen O’Toole as the department continues to study the public safety impact from I-502’s legalization of retail marijuana. The trends match the first half of 2014 when it was revealed that one downtown bicycle officer had written nearly 80% of Seattle’s pot citations.

The numbers area also important for advocates seeking to create new venues for people to consume marijuana. CHS has reported on the renter’s paradox under I-502 in which apartment dwellers may have nowhere to go to smoke pot due to lease restrictions.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 10.52.10 AM

Of the 85 tickets issued from July through December 2014, only two were handed out in the East Precinct — 94% of Seattle’s citations were handed out downtown.

The citation totals do not, however, include SPD traffic stops and contacts for suspected marijuana use. An SPD dispatch dataset shows five different marijuana related incidents handled in the East Precinct in the past week, each of them in the Pike/Pine core or near Cal Anderson, three initiated by a “suspicious stop” by the officer. None of the five, by the way, resulted in a citation.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 11.10.31 AM


Here are the other breakdowns for the 2014 dataset including the racial component showing 27% of citations were issued to African Americans.

The dataset also reveals one additional aspect of enforcing public marijuana consumption laws — only 9.4% of the 2014 tickets have been paid.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 10.52.04 AM

Capitol Hill Family Arcade — and a new home for Angel’s Shoe Repair — latest twists in quest to open first Capitol Hill pot shop

The next chapter in the Game of Thrones-like saga playing out around competing I-502 marijuana retailers on Capitol Hill’s 15th Ave E involves a possible cutthroat business maneuver mixed with compassion for a longtime neighborhood shopkeeper.

Uncle Ike’s owner Ian Eisenberg has confirmed to CHS that the video games he is moving into the former home of the Capitol Hill Animal Clinic at 15th and Republican are going to be put to good use — starting now.

The Capitol Hill Family Arcade will open Monday night, Eisenberg said, if all goes to plan as carpenters have split the former vet clinic in twain to make way for the arcade. Eisenberg said he is making room in the building for Angel’s Shoe Repair to make the move from across the street.

“When I went to the 15th Avenue merchant meeting,” Eisenberg tells CHS, “I said I wanted to be a good neighbor. I followed the trials and tribulations at Angel’s. I have the extra space.”

Cobbler Ray Angel should be open in his new space by the end of the week, Eisenberg said.

The moves come as Eisenberg is preparing the building to eventually be home to his second I-502 marijuana retailing operation. The Uncle Ike’s entrepreneur paid $1.5 million for the property earlier this year as another I-502 permit holder was gearing up to open in the former vet clinic. Uncle Ike’s is a CHS advertiser.

The resulting cascade of activity now has Samuel Burke and his Tok shop working to open in the longtime home of Angel’s while Ray Angel was turning to the community to raise money to fund a possible move after losing his longtime month-to-month lease.

Angel will now have a new lease on business life with a space inside Eisenberg’s building that is designed to remain should the address eventually be permitted next year when new legislation goes into effect allowing the state to hand out more I-502 permits. But the appearance of an arcade could complicate the permitting process for Tok as it pushes to open this summer.

“It’s curious that a pot shop owner is trying to disallow other pot shops from opening in this  manner,” Tok representative Ben Livingston tells CHS. Livingston also expressed his doubts about whether it is legal for an arcade to operate in the building. We are reaching out to DPD to ask about permitted uses at the address.

Eisenberg says his motives are simple.

“I had some games sitting around and they were taking up space,” Eisenberg said. “It’s an easy way to activate the space.”

Meanwhile, the City Council passed a measure Monday that would close many, if not all, of the city’s medical marijuana shops that opened after I-502 was passed in 2013. Businesses able to show that they opened before January 2013 will be able to continue operations, pending their adherence to new enforcement rules.

UPDATE 7/14/2015 11:50 AM: If you had any doubts, the arcade *must* be real — it has a Facebook page:

UPDATE 7/15/2015 8:40 AM: A complaint has been filed with DPD for the building. Eisenberg says he has been ordered to stop work so construction of the Angel’s Shoe Repair component of the building must be put on hold pending permits. “It shouldn’t take too long, but it will mean Angel won’t be able to make a smooth transition across the street and he’ll probably be down for a little while,” Eisenberg said.

We’ve asked DPD for details of the complaint.

UPDATEx2: The complaint is pretty straightforward — but goes beyond the cobbler portion of the project: “Electrical and construction work without permits to create video arcade in former vet clinic space.”

“Whatever business that goes in there will need to get a change of use permit to operate as something other than a vet clinic,” a DPD spokesperson said.

In the meantime, Eisenberg says the arcade remains open.

Governor signs pot reform bill to ease zoning restrictions, streamline taxes

Marijuana freedom could spread on Capitol Hill under the new HB 2169 (Image: Alex Garland)

Marijuana freedom could spread on Capitol Hill under the new HB 2169 (Image: Alex Garland)

A city map from 2013 shows how the 1,000 foot buffer rule restricted most areas from I-502 shops.

A city map from 2013 shows how the 1,000 foot buffer rule restricted most areas from I-502 shops.

Recreational and medical marijuana taxes will fall under a single tax and zoning restrictions placed on I-502 shops could significantly ease under a reform enacted by Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday.

HB 2136, which the legislature passed last week, would allow cities and counties to significantly reduce the buffer rule that has kept recreational marijuana shops away from many dense, commercial areas like Pike/Pine. The current law states I-502 shops cannot be located within a 1,000 foot radius of parks, schools, and other specific gathering places. Localities could soon bring that buffer down to 100 feet under the new measure. We’re checking with the city to see how the buffer rule may change here.  Continue reading

‘Save Our Angel’ — Community fundraiser started as Angel’s Shoe Repair evicted to make way for new pot shop

The Save Our Angel! Gofundme Page (Image: @solv17 via Twitter)

The Save Our Angel! Gofundme Page (Image: @solv17 via Twitter)

An attempt to forge a sweet ending for Angel’s Shoe Repair after 35 years at 15th and Republican has gone sour. Last week, CHS reported on the more than 100-year-old business losing its month-to-month lease as a new I-502 marijuana retailer was taking over the space. When we talked with Tok owner Sam Burke, there was still a chance he and Ray Angel could work out a deal to give the cobbler a part to play in the new marijuana shop.

But by Friday afternoon, the eviction notice went up — and the deal, apparently, was off.

Ben Livingston, who is working as Burke’s broker in acquiring a location for the business, said Burke offered Angel “a part-time job” with a five-year contract and that Angel was “pretty stoked about the job.” Burke also offered Angel a $95,000 “goodwill payment,” Livingston said. “The only goal was to make him happy and not complain to the media,” Livingston said. UPDATE 6/3/2015 8:15 AM: Livingston provided a correction clarifying the offer he says was offered to Angel —

Mr. Burke offered a lump sum payment of $20,000 and five years of half-time employment at $15/hr ($15k per year times five years minimum guaranteed employment).

Livingston said there was an informal agreement between the men but that changed when lawyers got involved. According to Livingston, Angel wanted a guarantee of payment even if Tok never opened.

UPDATE 6/3/2015 5:00 PM: The lawyer representing Ray Angel tells CHS she refutes Livingston’s account of the negotiations. “It would have been nice if there were a $20,000 lump sum payment and/or a five-year guaranteed employment,” Cecilia Cordova of Pacific Alliance Law said. “The fact is, either one of those would have been a good deal, but neither was offered.”

“My understanding is different from what Mr. Livingston is purporting the terms of the agreement to be,” Cordova said.

Angel’s eviction date looms at the end of the month but Cordova declined to comment further on the situation at this time. Commercial eviction can be a lengthy process and there are avenues including bankruptcy court that can add even more time to the process.

The eviction notice went up Friday -- enlarge

The eviction notice went up Friday — enlarge

Arlana Angel, Ray’s daughter who has been representing the business, said the Capitol Hill cobbler will be taking the next two weeks to complete orders and start moving out his century-old equipment. Ideally, Arlana said Angel will find a new home for his shop in the coming weeks.

“He got bullied out of his space,” she said. “It wouldn’t be easy for anyone, let alone someone who’s 67-years-old.”

Arlana said “a longtime customer and family friend” has created a donation page for supporting her dad’s move. $1,300 had been raised as of Tuesday afternoon.

Arlana also referred CHS to lawyers representing her father but they have not yet responded to our messages.

The family shoe repair business first opened in 1912 and has been on Capitol Hill for nearly 70 years.

Due to restrictions on where I-502 shops can be located, the area around 15th and Republican is in high demand. Entrepreneur and real estate investor Ian Eisenberg has confirmed with CHS his plans to convert the former veterinary clinic he purchased at 15th and Republican into a marijuana shop. CHS reported on the $1.5 million purchase in February as the CHS advertiser and Uncle Ike’s owner snatched the property out from under Burke.

Burke was initially trying to buy the building where the shoe repair business has been located, Livingston said. Ed Zhang — the official postmaster and business owner of the US Postal Service outlet next door to Angel’s in the building, told CHS he has two years left on his lease but has been notified by the building’s ownership that he will face a doubling of rents.

Livingston said Burke will take possession of the Angel’s Shoe Repair retail space starting July 1st.

tōk, Capitol Hill’s first pot shop, to open in longtime home of Angel’s Shoe Repair — UPDATE

IMG_4970When his target location for a recreational pot store on 15th Ave E was snatched up in an 11th hour deal earlier this year, Samuel Burke scrambled in search of a place to open Capitol Hill’s first I-502 shop. He may have found it across Republican at Angel’s Shoe Repair.

If all goes according to plan, Burke tells CHS he will open tōk by the end of June in the space that Ray Angel has occupied since 1980. Customers may also find a familiar face behind the pot shop’s counter: Burke says he wants to sign on Angel to work in his shop.

“I’m always looking for a win-win situation,” Burke told CHS.

Angel, a third generation cobbler, declined to comment on the future of his shop or his involvement with tōk. The family shoe repair business first opened in 1912 and has been on Capitol Hill for nearly 70 years. Joel Ostroff, who manages the property for Stanley Real Estate on behalf of the real estate investors who own the building, also declined to comment.

State Totals via the WSLCB’s Marijuana Dashboard

Burke told CHS on Thursday that he was prepared to sign a lease that day with the 1463 E Republican property owner. The state liquor board has already conditionally approved the new location, which Burke hopes could open as early as next month after he submits a copy of his lease and security plans to state regulators. However, Burke has reason to be cautious. Continue reading

CHS Pics | 2015 Cannabis Freedom march brings signs, causes, and I-502 product placements to streets of Capitol Hill

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

IMG_7197Believer or not, there are elements of “cannabis freedom” greater than I-502 victories like “sophisticated” pot cookies and neighborhoods like 15th Ave E facing competition between potential multiple legal pot retail shops. Saturday, the various forces pushing for the next horizons of pot freedom gathered again in Volunteer Park for a rally and march for the cause.

Here’s a look at the march as it traveled down Broadway and Pine along with the messages of the many constituencies represented — from the cannabis as PTSD treatment “22” movement that marks the number of veterans believed to commit suicide every day, to the ongoing fight to have marijuana removed from the federal roster of controlled substances, to the fight against Washington’s plans to transition medical marijuana into the purview of I-502 retailers. And, in true I-502 spirit, there was also some community-friendly product placement thanks to providers like Nana’s Secret “cannabis-infused” sodas.

Meanwhile, Central Seattle potrepreneur Ian Eisenberg may not have had a float in this year’s march but he did have reason to celebrate. The lawsuit brought against his Uncle Ike’s shop at 23rd and Union by a neighboring church and community group has been dropped, the Seattle Times reports. CHS reported here on some of the early legal victories for Eisenberg’s store. Last month, Eisenberg told CHS he is planning to open a second I-502 retailer in the former veterinarian clinic building he purchased at 15th Ave and Republican.IMG_7269

More pictures, below. Continue reading

Medical marijuana overhaul will close dispensaries and shift patients to I-502 retailers

Capitol Hill celebrated the passage of I-502, which brought about the medical marijuana overhaul (Image: CHS)

Capitol Hill celebrated the passage of I-502, which brought about the medical marijuana overhaul (Image: CHS)

The green cross has grown into a symbol of the marijuana medical marijuana industry

The green cross has grown into a symbol of the marijuana medical marijuana industry

Last week, Governor Jay Inslee enacted the most sweeping overhaul to the state’s medical marijuana system since voters first approved it in 1998. It was an effort to bring the mostly unregulated medical marijuana system in-line with the highly regulated recreational one.

For Seattle’s non-patients, the most noticeable change might be an urban landscape suddenly devoid of signs bearing green crosses.

Shutting down medical shops will also mean putting some people out of a job including workers and owners at a handful of Central District dispensaries.

Shy Sadis, who claims ownership of 10 dispensaries including Starbuds at 23rd and John, said nearly all of his 80 employees could be out of work if the state doesn’t establish a pathway for medical shops to re-open as retailers.

“I wish medical could stay, but if it’s going, I’m going to have to make the transition to full I-502,” he said. “I’m hoping they will give us I-502 licenses for shutting us down.”

Many of the city’s medical marijuana dispensaries are expected to close by July 2016 under the reformation act, though the overhaul does pave pathway for some to transition into recreational shops. I-502 shops already in operation will be able to obtain medical endorsements to sell medical marijuana to card-holding patients tax-free. Continue reading