Capitol Hill pot publisher covering the business of Seattle’s retail pot economy

10336788_301921989965574_8598761731603846361_nWhile there might not be any I-502 pot shops on Capitol Hill proper that doesn’t mean marijuana-related businesses aren’t cropping up around the Hill. One man is even crazy enough to try to make it in the media business! John Tommervik created High Above Seattle to review bud and rate the new stores opening around the city. It launched in March. You can check it out at highaboveseattle.com.

“I looked at applying for marijuana license and all these different things and I just realized that where I would be best at because of being a creative director and a marketer and all that is to develop a website that just focuses on the local Seattle marijuana industry and just cover it,” said Tommervik who runs the site from Capitol Hill and lives in the neighborhood.

He says his home neighborhood is a big influence on HAS and the growing marijuana industry in Seattle. Continue reading

Church sues to shut down marijuana shop at 23rd/Union, change way Seattle zones pot

Pastor Witherspoon assists Mt Zion's Reverend Samuel B. McKinney with the bullhorn at a rally against Uncle Ike's in October (Image: CHS)

Pastor Witherspoon assists Mt Zion’s Reverend Samuel B. McKinney with the bullhorn at a rally against Uncle Ike’s in October (Image: CHS)

Opening weekend at Uncle Ike's (Image: CHS)

Opening weekend at Uncle Ike’s (Image: CHS)

The Central District church that turned to prayer and protest when it suddenly found itself neighboring Seattle’s second I-502 marijuana retailer is taking its case to close Uncle Ike’s to an even higher power — King County Superior Court.

The Seattle Times reports that Mount Calvary Christian Center is suing to shut Uncle Ike’s down:

The suit alleges that Uncle Ike’s was allowed to open despite being about 250 feet from a teen recreation center. It says the city and state did not perform due diligence in allowing Uncle Ike’s to open.

The church and community center ask the court to revoke Uncle Ike’s license and direct the city of Seattle to set up measures that would require it to let communities weigh in before potential marijuana stores are approved.

The Times reports Mount Calvary’s Pastor Reggie Witherspoon told the paper that Uncle Ike’s owner Ian Eisenberg needs to take the “community’s concerns” more seriously.

Ike’s, the WSLCB and the City of Seattle are all reportedly named in the lawsuit which has not yet been filed. Continue reading

Central Seattle’s only pot store, Uncle Ike’s sold $13,736 of marijuana per day in first week

The staff at Ian Eisenberg's pot and car wash emporium (Image: Uncle Ike's)

The staff at Ian Eisenberg’s pot and car wash emporium (Image: Uncle Ike’s)

Source: WSLCB

Source: WSLCB

Anybody who thinks Washington’s I-502 pot business is fun and games better just mellow out. CHS has obtained records from the state that document the first week of sales at Uncle Ike’s, the first I-502 retailer to operate in Central Seattle within wafting distance of Capitol Hill. The totals are impressive.

According to the state liquor board, the 23rd and Union pot shop started things off with a bang, netting nearly $17,000 in marijuana sales on its September 30th launch day. The rest of the week didn’t fade generating an average take of $13,736 per day. Continue reading

Should state turn over I-502 pot zoning to the Seattle City Council?

Mount Calvary Christian Center prayed, rallied and waved signs Sunday at 23rd and Union (Image: CHS)

Mount Calvary Christian Center prayed, rallied and waved signs Sunday at 23rd and Union (Image: CHS)

Sumedha Majumdar — CHS Fall 2014 Intern contributed to this report.

As protest continues in the Central District over a retail marijuana shop opening next to a church, community members and city officials are asking for a review of how pot shops are located in Seattle. Is it already time for lawmakers to start making changes to the state’s young recreational marijuana law?

In August, CHS spoke with I-502 author Alison Holcomb about how the law was progressing. At the time, we discussed the possibility of giving local officials authority to approve the locations of I-502 stores, rather than the state liquor board. Couldn’t Seattle’s City Council approve the location of 21 retail marijuana shop locations under its own rules?

“Politically it’s a lot cleaner,” Holcomb said this summer. “That makes a lot of sense to me.” Continue reading

‘Shut it down’ — Rally, prayer against I-502 marijuana shop Uncle Ike’s at 23rd and Union

Pastor Reggie C. Witherspoon, Sr. asked the crowd for help continuing the protest in coming days (Images: CHS)

Pastor Reggie C. Witherspoon, Sr. asked the crowd for help continuing the protest in coming days (Images: CHS)

IMG_570223rd Ave’s Mount Calvary Christian Center and its Pastor Reggie Witherspoon lead a sea of support Sunday afternoon shutting down the street in front of its newly opened neighbor — I-502 marijuana store Uncle Ike’s.

“We gotta have a strategy,” Pastor Witherspoon shouted through a bullhorn to the assembled group of Sunday worshippers and protesters who gathered in the street on 23rd Ave just north of the intersection. “We’re going to be working with the legislature. We’re going to be doing all the legal things we have to do. A rally alone may not be the answer. They got to change this law.”

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Continue reading

More pot coming to E Union?

From the real estate listing for the site: "NC2P-40 zoned 40x120 foot 4800 SF site in the heart of new development & Chic & Trendy mixed use buildings all around w/luxury apts & cute retail establishments. The adjoining property to the west to begin construction on a luxury apartment/retail building in December of 2014 (in just 6 months!) Development set to begin for the site across the street on the NW corner of 24th Ave/Union Street on the Keybank site. Construction already began on site 23rd/Union. Great development potential here!"

From the real estate listing for the site: “NC2P-40 zoned 40×120 foot 4800 SF site in the heart of new development & Chic & Trendy mixed use buildings all around w/luxury apts & cute retail establishments. The adjoining property to the west to begin construction on a luxury apartment/retail building in December of 2014 (in just 6 months!) Development set to begin for the site across the street on the NW corner of 24th Ave/Union Street on the Keybank site. Construction already began on site 23rd/Union. Great development potential here!”

Uncle Ike’s might soon have company. In the same week the 23rd and Union store became home to only the second retail marijuana shop operating in Seattle, CHS has learned that the I-502 lottery winner for a license to operate in the Central District has purchased a nearby property.

Mello Times owner John Branch has secured an E Union-facing storefront just down the Hill from Uncle Ike’s. According to King County records, Branch bought the 4,800 square-foot property in the 2400 block of E Union this week for $590,000. Continue reading

Seattle’s second I-502 retailer, Uncle Ike’s opens Tuesday — UPDATE

IMG_8324IMG_8318UPDATE 9/30/2014: At noon around 20 people were waiting in line at 23rd and Union when a man poked his head outside Uncle Ike’s Pot Shop and yelled “we’re open!”

The line was not nearly as long and didn’t start nearly as early as when the first I-502 stores first opened in July, but it was a ceremonious afternoon nonetheless as Seattle’s second pot shop “officially” opened in the heart of the Central District.

Ryan Elbrecht, 35, was vacationing in Seattle from Florida when a friend dared him to be the first in line for Uncle Ike’s grand opening. Elbrecht said he got in line at 9 PM Monday night with a backpack full of beer and a goose-shaped pillow.

“It’s just cool to walk into a shop and buy weed. You go to prison for that where I’m from and we’re in the same country,” he said.

Elbrecht said the experience was so good he’s going to make Seattle his new home. A construction worker by trade, Elbrecht said he doesn’t think he’ll have any problems finding a job in the area. “There are cranes everywhere around here,” he said.

Ryan Elbrecht, 35,

Ryan Elbrecht, 35, at the front of the line for Uncle Ike’s grand opening (Photo: CHS)

One man waiting online with his husband said he worked for the Department of Defense while his spouse worked for the Department of Homeland Security. “It’s not appropriate for me to be here, but I don’t care,” he said. Both men asked to remain anonymous.

Prices at the store were high, but appeared to be in line with Washington’s other I-502 shops: $26 for a gram and $44 for a package of edibles. Sales seemed to go off without a hitch, aside from a few customers who were turned away for not having an ID.

Following a successful soft launch to test out the state’s I-502 computer system and work out any kinks in being only the second legal marijuana retailer in Seattle, Uncle Ike’s was ready for its “official” opening.

CHS broke the news last week on the two-building Central District mini cannabis campus moving forward with its business venture after state inspectors approved it as only the second I-502 retail license in Seattle.

Ike’s owner Ian Eisenberg tells CHS that the shop will begin serving customers at noon Tuesday with plans to remain open until 7 PM — or until its $26/gram pot runs out. “We have flower and joints from Avitas and Monkey Grass Farms, a nice selection of edibles and RIF oil cartridges from Green Chief, and we expect to have JuJu Joints as well,” Ike’s posted in a Facebook update. Continue reading

Pike/Pine nightlife entrepreneur Meinert lights up I-502 marijuana venture Torch Northwest

Meinert congratulating Ed Murray on Election Night. They probably were not high (Image: CHS)

Meinert congratulating Ed Murray on Election Night. They probably were not high (Image: CHS)

10645080_361068550711664_307403192876139037_nOnly 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.” Continue reading

Forget Metro cutbacks, Seattle now has a Weed Bus that lets you smoke weed. On the bus. — UPDATE: Olympia says nope

photo (1)The Weed Bus Club, a party bus turned stoner’s paradise, has been out and about in Seattle this summer. Perhaps you smelled the bus when it stopped by Capitol Hill Block Party.

William Prigmore’s club provides what he says is a safe space for people to tour Seattle — while smoking weed.

“You can hop on the Weed Bus by yourself,” says Prigmore, “a lot of different people are always on the bus. I think that’s why people like it a lot, it’s not like you have to rent a party bus out.”

UPDATE 8/22/14: That didn’t last long. The day after we told you about Weed Bus, state regulators have snuffed the idea:

Citing multiple state laws and a concern for public safety, the commission stated that charter and excursion vehicles, drivers, and passengers are considered to be in view of the general public, therefore, the consumption or use of marijuana products on board a charter or excursion vehicle is prohibited.

We’ve posted the full announcement, below.

There are two buses in the club that eventually will have set routes between legal marijuana retail stores and tourist sites such as Pike Place Market and Alki Beach in West Seattle, Prigmore says. He plans for people to hop on at different stops and ride for as long as they like. Continue reading

24th and John’s Starbuds stands confident on medical marijuana’s shaky ground

Braeutigam and Ibarra (Image: CHS)

Braeutigam and Ibarra (Image: CHS)

One local collective remains unworried facing medicinal marijuana’s uncertain future in Washington.

As I-502 ever-so-slowly makes its way into reality, so does a host of questions about what might happen to the medical marijuana structure that’s existed since voters approved Initiative 692 in 1998. While the state determines whom to license for recreational marijuana and the legislature decides whether it wants to reconcile the two industries, a lot of uncertainty exists in the future of medical marijuana.

1385068_212948782213770_350961081_n Starbuds on E John and 24th Ave E has only served marijuana patients for about 10 months, but the business has found committed customers, a sense of community involvement and a healthy attitude about that might come.

“We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing until we’re told not to,” Steve Braeutigam, manager of Starbuds tells CHS. “Things are great right now and the rest of the country is looking to us as pioneers.”

For Braeutigam, a line in the sand exists between collectives and the coming recreational stores. Continue reading

Washington’s first marijuana stores open with lines, short supply

Marchers at this year's Cannabis Freedom March across Capitol Hill (Image: CHS)

Marchers at this year’s Cannabis Freedom March across Capitol Hill (Image: CHS)

Anybody planning a road trip to be one of the first people in Washington state to purchase legal marijuana better hustle. The lines are already formed.

With 24 official state retail licenses issued — including one in Seattle — Tuesday marks the planned first day of sales at the few shops around the state ready for business and stocked with inventory:

Barring some 11th-hour business catastrophe, 10 pounds of marijuana will line these shelves Tuesday, a quantity Lathrop expects will sell out that day at $15 to $20 per gram. But until he officially receives his retail license from the state Monday, it’s only glass paraphernalia and small label plates that read “Fine Jewelry,” remnants from when the cases lived in a Sears department store.

4th Ave S’s Cannabis City and its 10 pounds of first-day-of-business pot joins 23 other stores in the first wave of Washington retailers.

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 7.56.13 AMMeanwhile, the owner of Mello Times, the only retailer within walking distance of Capitol Hill to make it through the state’s license lottery with a permit opportunity secured, told CHS his 24th and Union concern won’t be operating until later this summer at the earliest as he prepares the business for the long haul. Despite a pot-friendly, dense population, the various intertwining local and state rules around retail marijuana have conspired to keep Capitol Hill proper a legal pot shop-free zone. The black market will continue to thrive, of course, and the gray market, so far, is also making a game go of it. Capitol Hill’s thousand of apartment dwellers, unless the have a forward thinking building manager, might find it difficult to overcome the renter’s pot paradox. One solution to avoid the smoke — edibles. You can buy and possess 16 ounces of solid marijuana-infused products like brownies and candy. Use it wisely.

Marijuana legalization in Washington began rolling with the passage of I-502 in 2012 legalizing the purchase and possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. Advocates are now moving forward to protect medical marijuana in the state and to introduce legalized homegrown pot. Meanwhile, other states are watching Washington and the only other state in the union that has so far approved the sale of retail pot — Colorado.

If you do go shopping this week, expect some disappointment here and there as shops work out issues with supply — and demand.

You’ll have to wait for Central Seattle’s only approved pot shop

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This Central District house stands at the address registered by Mello Times in its successful application to be one of the first legal marijuana stores in Seattle (Image: CHS)

If you want to be among the first to legally purchase recreational marijuana in Seattle, don’t go looking for it in the Central District (and definitely don’t go looking on Capitol Hill). Seattle’s first crop of marijuana shops are slated to open on July 8th, but the only licensed shop in central Seattle won’t be one of them.

John Branch told CHS his 24th and Union shop Mello Times may not open until August. Branch said he’s still building the business after finding out in May he would receive one of the city’s 21 retail marijuana licenses.

“People were assuming they would win (the lottery). I didn’t assume I would win,” he said. Continue reading

Cannabis Freedom fighters march for homegrown ‘medical’ on annual trek across Capitol Hill

IMG_8646IMG_8660There are still things to march for when it comes to marijuana in Washington State. Activists who came out to Saturday’s annual Cannabis Freedom March and Volunteer Park rally want to make sure you won’t be inadvertently sucking the life out of the state’s existing medical marijuana system after making your first legal purchase of cannabis this July.

 “The one thing that we all have in common, no matter what group you are with, we want medical marijuana safe,” a representative of Cannabis Workers Rising said from the stage during a presentation which at times turned into a raucous union rally, Saturday.

Initiative 648, an effort to put protections of medical marijuana rights in place in the state and support homegrown pot as a medical alternative for citizens, made a strong presence at Saturday’s rally. Backers of the initiative tabled with petitions near the stage as speakers voiced their support for the wide ranging legislation that would allow homegrown medical pot and change rules around the legal limit for impairment for patients.

"Small farmers are a vast and diverse group.  Patients have to be growers and farmers.  It's a symbiotic relationship and a healing lifestyle,"  Farmer Tom said Saturday.

“Small farmers are a vast and diverse group. Patients have to be growers and farmers. It’s a symbiotic relationship and a healing lifestyle,” Farmer Tom said Saturday.

“What this event does is bring everyone together on different sides so that everyone has a voice on what they believe is the right thing to do so the majority pick what is the right thing to do, and so everyone’s informed,” the Cannabis Freedom March’s organizer Melissa Hysom said. “We’re passionate, we believe in what we believe in, and a lot of different activists believe in a different way of doing it,” she said. “What I love about doing this is informing people, and creating a big party in the street all day long.” Continue reading