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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.

According to state regulations, an I-502 retailer can’t open within 1,000-foot radius of a place where children typically gather, including parks, schools, and video arcades. The rule was written into I-502 with the assumption that it would placate federal law enforcement officials. Under federal sentencing guidelines, there are specific penalties for selling drugs within 1,000 feet of schools.

However, the buffer zone is likely to change after the State Legislature passed a bill in June that would allow for local municipalities to reduce the buffer to 100 feet for places like video arcades and parks. We have asked the WSLCB for clarification on how the buffer rule zone is being applied at 15th and Republican.

The buffer zones created an odd permitting landscape, essentially restricting I-502 locations near Capitol Hill to the area around 23rd and Union and a 15th and E Republican.

In the meantime, Eisenberg offered Angel a space next to the arcade and announced plans to move in Full Tilt Ice Cream. Both businesses are awaiting permits to open.

Ponder Budtenders Danny and Dan, two of the talented young people forging careers in Seattle's new legal pot industry (Image: Ponder)

Ponder budtenders Danny and Dan, two of the talented young people forging careers in Seattle’s new legal pot industry (Image: Ponder)

State regulators opened a new window for I-502 license applications last month, and unlike the first application round and lottery, there is no set cap on the number of licenses they can issue. Eisenberg submitted an application to open a second Uncle Ike’s where his arcade currently operates, but told CHS he’s not holding his breath for a permit.

The WSLCB 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 licensed since January 2013. All other applicants will be third priority.

Meanwhile, the Central District got its second pot shop in September as Ponder opened its doors at 24th and Union. Ponder’s opening and Uncle Ike’s ongoing strong sales all on a few blocks near 23rd and Union is a version of the “Little Amsterdam” prophecy some predicted as I-502 retail rules and zoning took shape.

Uncle Ike’s and Ponder are CHS advertisers.

UPDATE 11/23/2015: So, Ruckus? Nice crow! No reviews… yet.

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27 Comments
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Optimum
Optimum
5 years ago

The people who live nearby will just love the constant parade of cars and white people coming to buy drugs just like the other drug corner at 23rd with the pot shop there.

booz
booz
5 years ago
Reply to  Optimum

I don’t live near a pot shop and there is a “constant parade of cars and white people”. If you live within 1000 ft of any given point in Capitol Hill and don’t like cars or white people obscuring your view of that hot new historic auto row luxury apartment building you’re in for a bad time.

Neil
Neil
5 years ago
Reply to  Optimum

I’m walk down it a lot and am convinced that 15th Ave has always been a “constant parade of cars and white people” buying something or other. What difference will it make if it’s weed? And how would you even distinguish the weed buyers from the people who live there, nearly all of whom are also “white people in cars”?

White people live nearby
White people live nearby
5 years ago
Reply to  Optimum

Will they be seeing themselves in the glass of the windows?

Mars Saxman
5 years ago
Reply to  Optimum

23rd & Union is smack bang in the middle of my neighborhood, and you’re damn right I love the constant parade. The pot shop has turned what used to be a depressing shithole into a cool, happening spot. With all the new development going in around there, I think it’s safe to say that blighted area has turned the corner and the days of arsons and shootings will soon be nothing more than a colorful memory.

livingintheCD
livingintheCD
5 years ago
Reply to  Mars Saxman

Amen to that. We can only hope that some of that filters down to 23rd & Cherry, even without a pot shop. It would be nice to have something more than a gas station and taxi hangout.

CDmom
CDmom
5 years ago
Reply to  livingintheCD

You are kidding, right? Uncle Ike’s has done nothing to help crime at and directly around 23rd and Union. Last fall there were daily shootings at 24th and spring. A guy was shot dead in there isn’t the afternoon this summer. It’s worse than its been in years.
Sure people are driving in to get their pot and Uncle Ike’s looks better, but as far as crime, nothing is better.

t
t
5 years ago
Reply to  Optimum

I live directly across the street and am not worried. I refuse to be a NIMBY about this. If there are problems as a result of the shop, then we’ll deal with this problems one at a time.
The sky is not falling. It’ll be OK.

Jim98122x
Jim98122x
5 years ago
Reply to  t

The Safeway and QFC sell lots of booze, and have for a couple of years. I hear no consternation about that. Hmmm…wonder why not?

Max
Max
5 years ago
Reply to  Optimum

You just described Pike/Pine.

caitlin
caitlin
5 years ago
Reply to  Optimum

So you are saying literally nothing will change? It’s capitol hill, not Detroit, there already is a parade of cars and white people looking to buy things on 15th street. FFS there’s a QFC and Safeway right there already.

genevieve
genevieve
5 years ago
Reply to  Optimum

I love how hard everyone is working to avoid what Optimum was really saying.

Rob
Rob
5 years ago

My head hurts just trying to keep track of all this. What I want to know is if there will ever bee Full Tilt ice cream at the old vet place as promised. My kids ask me about it on a regular basis.

Bourbon Maple Walnut
Bourbon Maple Walnut
5 years ago
Reply to  Rob

Agreed!
Ian – will there still be a Full Tilt? The drama of “As The Weed Burns” has been entertaining, but dang it – everyone loves Full Tilt.

Besides – Stoners and ice cream – they go together. This could be another cash cow.

Jim98122x
Jim98122x
5 years ago

I’m glad the WSLCB didn’t fall for this cynical ploy to pot-block a competitor. I like what Eisenberg has done for the 23rd and Union intersection (not just the pot shop); but this struck me as a particularly sneaky, dirty trick. I’m glad it didn’t work.

Joe
Joe
5 years ago
Reply to  Jim98122x

I am also glad it hasn’t become a thing, but as neologism “pot-block” is awesome.

Jim98122x
Jim98122x
5 years ago
Reply to  Joe

Thanks. :-)
Hope we don’t need to use it very often!

le.gai.savant
le.gai.savant
5 years ago
Reply to  Jim98122x

Let’s see, Burke was so heart set on putting in a pot shop, he arranged to evict Angel, a long time neighborhood businessman, depriving us of the kind of small business that makes a neighborhood’s character. Eisenberg promptly rented space in the new arcade to Angel. And you call the arcade a cynical ploy?

J
J
5 years ago
Reply to  le.gai.savant

Yes, you obviously hasn’t been paying attention. He opened a free arcade (with the worst hours) just to try to stop Tok from opening first. The only reason he offered Angel space was to gain some credibility with the community. Also, the vet was also forced out of that space that he purchased.

harvey
harvey
5 years ago

Sad this is so exciting for people. As for “white people” comments, how about replace that with “black people” when you talk about another neighborhood and see how it goes. Geez, grow up, stop the racial B.S. and hope you have a happy life even if you can’t get to your pot shop before it closes.

Josh Mahar
Josh Mahar
5 years ago

For the record, the little ‘hood between Fremont and Wallingford already has three pot shops open within a 1/4 mile of each other, so I’d say its clearly becoming the “little Amsterdam” of Seattle. Best part is, they are centered around STONE way. Got to love it. ;)

Max
Max
5 years ago

Any clue when it will open? Also, is it going to have Capitol Hill prices? Be more expensive? Or is that controlled by separate factors? I guess time will tell.

icantsleep
icantsleep
5 years ago

I stopped by Ponder last weekend (out of curiosity) and was super impressed with their staff and selection. I wasn’t rushed through a line, or price gouged like I have been at Ike’s They have “Happy Hour” Deals and specials. Their tinctures, and lotions were way more affordable than Ike’s. (I use tinctures for my Insomnia. ) I can’t recommend them enough.

Ike
Ike
5 years ago
Reply to  icantsleep

I was trying my best to stay off this thread but can’t. All of our prices are online. Ike’s has by far the cheapest prices in Seattle. Check out all the stores’ menus and you’ll see. No gimmicky happy hours or discount cards. Just the lowest prices all day everyday on everything.

J
J
5 years ago
Reply to  Ike

I have heard this argument and seen it in your ads and it’s just not true. I have been to cheaper places.

Ike
Ike
5 years ago
Reply to  J

The menus don’t lie.

Jesse Kennemer
Jesse Kennemer
5 years ago
Reply to  Ike

Regular Ike’s customer that is really turned off of your business by the dishonesty of your argument. It isn’t as simple as a monolithic “cheapest shop”.

Ike’s maintains a daily $7 gram and $16 2g special. That is 50 cents cheaper than the $7.50 gram…except that it is actually listed on the menu instead of being whatever older pot Ike’s wants to faze out.

At the same time, Ike’s has some cheaper strains on the primary menu…but well over half of the strains available are “boutique” type strains selling for upwards of $15/gram.

In contrast, Ponder has a few strains in that price range but a far larger percentage of its menu at between $8-$12/gram.

If you average out all the strain prices on Ike’s menu and all the strain prices on Ponder’s menu, Ponder’s average price/strain is significantly lower.

So…it’s not as clear cut as “the menus don’t lie”, Ike. Please don’t insult our intelligence.