Draze (Images: CHS)
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
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
With 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
The 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
Protesters outside Uncle Ike’s (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)
Ike’s owner Eisenberg talked with some protesters but declined an invitation to address the crowd
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
Ruckus, the Hill’s first pot shop (Image: CHS)
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
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
Yellow areas on the right show where pot shops may be allowed under new rules.
Seattle could add up to 21 more pot shops as part of 222 new retail licenses the state Liquor and Cannabis board plans to issue next year. The board, which will vote on the plan January 6th, announced the increase along with findings of a much anticipated study commissioned to determine the size of the state’s marijuana marketplace.
Increasing the number of marijuana retailers paves the way for the state’s largely unregulated medical marijuana system to fold into the highly regulated and taxed retail system.
“Our goal was clear; to ensure medical patients have access to the products they need,” said WSLCB director Rick Garza in a statement. “There will be more storefronts for patients going forward than are available today. In addition, qualified patients can grow their own or join a four-member cooperative.”
Many of the city’s medical marijuana dispensaries are expected to close by July 2016 under the overhaul, though there will be a pathway for some to transition into recreational shops. I-502 shops already in operation will also be able to obtain medical endorsements to sell medical marijuana to card-holding patients tax-free.
How many more shops will open around Capitol Hill could largely depend on what happens with proposed zoning changes currently making their way through City Council. On Wednesday, the Council’s planning committee advanced a measure proposed by Mayor Ed Murray to reduce the distance new I-502 retailers must keep from places where children typically gather, like parks and arcades. Continue reading
Sam Burke (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)
A fortuitous spelling error on the front door of Capitol Hill’s first marijuana shop could not have been more fitting. After more than a year of twists and turns, Ruckus opened for business last Friday with a sign that boasts, “Yes we are defiantly open.”
Owner Sam Burke said the name of the 15th and E Republican shop was similarly inspired by the long road it took for Capitol Hill to get its first I-502 shop after the legalization measure was approved by voters in 2012. “It seemed to fit the vibe more than Tok,” he said. Continue reading
A series of zoning changes that could increase the number of allowable pot retailers on Capitol Hill took a pass through the City Council’s planning committee Tuesday. Under the measure proposed by Mayor Ed Murray as part of a wider set of changes to the city’s marijuana rules, pot shops could open closer to parks and libraries by cutting in half the current 1,000 foot buffer rule. On Capitol Hill, that seems to open up the possibility for I-502 retail locations on or near Broadway, E Olive Way, E Madison, and 15th Ave, according to an unofficial map (PDF) provided by the Mayor’s Office.
The 1,000-foot buffers were initially passed in 2012 as a part of I-502. This summer, state legislators passed a bill that allowed significantly more local authority over pot zoning. Ultimately, Murray and pot business owners agree that recreational and medical marijuana should be evenly available across Seattle, but differ on the number and concentration of shops. Continue reading
Yellow areas on the right show where pot shops may be allowed under new rules.
The number of allowable locations for pot shops on Capitol Hill could expand under a new set of rules released Thursday. Mayor Ed Murray unveiled changes to the Seattle land use code that would, among other things, amend the 1,000-foot buffer rule to allow pot shops to open closer to parks and libraries. Meanwhile, state regulators are in Seattle Monday night for a public hearing on Washington’s medical marijuana rules.
Under the proposed changes in Seattle, the 1,000-foot buffer would be reduced to 500 feet, opening up the possibility for I-502 retail locations on or near Broadway, E Olive Way, E Madison, and 15th Ave, according to an unofficial map (PDF) provided by the Mayor’s Office. Continue reading