Spots on Broadway, E Olive Way, E Madison could be open to pot shops under new Seattle proposal

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

Pot twist: Arcade technicality opened way for Capitol Hill’s first pot shop

IMG_9802Add a few more to the twists and turns it has taken to get to Capitol Hill’s first pot shop. Meanwhile, the City of Seattle also is ready to propose new zoning rules around where pot shops can be located.

Earlier this week, CHS reported that after a year in limbo, Samuel Burke finally received his I-502 license to open Tok at 15th Ave E and E Republican inside the space formerly occupied by Angel’s Shoe Repair.

It was an unexpected move form the state Liquor and Cannabis Board, as a video arcade across the street appeared to be preventing Burke from opening. According to state regulations, an I-502 retailer can’t open within 1,000-foot radius of a place where children typically gather, including arcades. Continue reading

First on Capitol Hill, Tok granted pot retailer license for 15th and E Republican shop

The license for the first recreational pot shop on Capitol Hill has been approved. After a year of waiting in limbo, the state Liquor and Cannabis Board has approved the I-502 retail license for Tok to open at 15th Ave E and E Republican, according to the agency’s list of recently approved licenses. The approved location, nestled between El Farol and Postal Plus on E Republican, was the former home of Angel’s Shoe Repair.

Tok’s opening did not appear to be imminent late Monday as the shop’s windows remained papered-over. Tok owner Sam Burke and his spokesperson Ben Livingston did not return CHS’s messages Monday afternoon.

With a license in hand, Tok’s opening will close a chapter in one of the most closely watched small business dramas that’s played out on Capitol Hill. Earlier this year, Burke was well on his way to opening a pot shop inside the now-shuttered Capitol Hill Veterinary Clinic when Uncle Ike’s owner and CHS advertiser Ian Eisenberg bought the property in a $1.5 million deal. Burke, an original I-502 lottery winner, had hoped Eisenberg would still extend him a lease, but Eisenberg later told CHS he would remodel the space in hopes of finding another I-502 permit holder to partner with.

With his heart — and business plan — set on opening a shop on Capitol Hill, Burke scrambled and eventually secured a deal with the landlord across the street to open in Ray Angel’s longtime cobbler shop.

While Burke waited for Angel to make his exit, Eisenberg opened the Capitol Hill Family Arcade in the former veterinary clinic. Eisenberg said it was a convenient placeholder while he waited for the next window to submit an I-502 applications. The business seemingly had another advantage: complicating Burke’s mission to open Tok. Continue reading

Garbage bag of marijuana clippings found at 16th and Madison

If you left a garbage bag full of pot plant clippings on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning, it’s sitting inside the Seattle Police Department evidence room.

Seattle Police were dispatched to 16th and E Madison around 10:40 AM Tuesday after a caller reported finding a large bag full of marijuana clippings and plant debris scattered on the sidewalk nearby. According to SPD radio traffic, the bag didn’t appear to have any usable marijuana flowers.

SPD will probably not be investigating.

“It’s like finding a beer bottle,” said SPD spokesperson Patrick Michaud.

While retail pot is now legal in the state, there are no facilities CHS is aware of licensed to grow or process recreational marijuana in the immediate vicinity of 16th and Madison. But you might expect to see similar additions to are yard waste soon. Under new medical marijuana laws taking effect, patients will be able to grow up to four plants at home.

New no-cap license period could be good news for Capitol Hill pot

Thank you for pot smoking.

State regulators opened a new window for I-502 license applications this week, and unlike the first application round and lottery, there’s no set cap on the number of licenses they can issue. In theory, it sets up the possibility for Seattle to add more retail shops — including the next chapter in the race to bring pot to Capitol Hill on 15th Ave E.

But temper your expectations. Under a new priority criteria passed by the Legislature, the Washington state Liquor and Cannabis Board will give preferential consideration to those pot pioneers in the dissolving medical marijuana industry. First priority applicants include law abiding medical owners or employees who were issued a license prior to January 2013 and applied for a retail license prior to July 2014. Second priority applicants are medical shop owners or employees who have been linseed sinced January 2013. All other applicants will be third priority.

Even if more permits are issued, permit holders will still have to find a place to open their shop. With buffer rules still in place blocking shops from opening in most retail cores around the city, including on Capitol Hill, new locations remain hard to come by.

The WSLCB is also awaiting the results of a fresh study it commissioned to analyze how the marijuana market has changed over the last year. That will inform future caps on licenses, according to WSLCB spokesperson Brian Smith. Ultimately, the state is keen on maintaining a balanced supply of marijuana as a way to keep pot products from being sold out of state and thus keeping the federal government off its back. Continue reading

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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.