About 200 miles east of Seattle, four young entrepreneurs are living the startup life in many of the same ways as Silicon Valley technologists. These guys aren’t writing code or creating the next 3d printing technology though. Instead they are wiring greenhouses, calculating nutrient formulas, and tweaking hash oil extraction methods.
The four twenty-something entrepreneurs have diverse backgrounds in politics, engineering, physics, and economics, but as so many students do, bonded smoking pot in college. After graduating from school and dabbling in the corporate life, the team converged in Washington on to use Miles and Connor Deife’s family farm for a large scale marijuana grow.
It took some convincing to get the family on board with the idea, as Miles and his brother Connor’s grandfather had once threatened their inheritance if they even smoked weed. As it turns out Grandpa Deife had a soft spot that you probably won’t find shocking; money. Miles and Connor’s mother was the one who pitched the idea to their grandpa, all but guaranteeing a return on his sizable investment.
The foursome got the ball rolling with $350,000 in capital and a 20 acre purchase of the family land. They submitted their paperwork to acquire three Tier 3 licenses (allowing for 21,000 feet of marijuana grows) back in December of 2013 and waited for their approval. Meanwhile they were each honing in on the task ahead, combing through every grow regulation, studying plant physiology, and fine tuning their leadership skills.
The team rolled up their sleeves and built out the grow facility by hand. It took the better part of a year to complete, working on things like constructing security fences, building the greenhouses, and wiring the facility by hand. As with any startup the guys wore many hats, worked through the night, and figured it out as they went.
Now that their grow facilities are built and operational, the young startup is moving full steam ahead. The team is processing marijuana into hash oil and say that they can make $40,000 a day doing so. Even with the high overhead of $10,000 monthly electricity bills, the team expects to pay off their $350,000 investment plus interest in early 2015.
The four guys are currently still sharing a small farm house (more like a frat house) and pulling all nighters. Miles spends most of his days making deliveries across the state and has secured a contract to turn 4 tons of marijuana into hash oil concentrate in the coming year.
It seems that the teams startup approach to the pot farm and entrepreneurial spirit will soon pay off. Big time. Similar to the Silicon Valley of the early 90s these guys got in at the ground level, and now the sky is the limit. As Washington and a slew of other states begin expanding their marijuana programs, this will be one of many more success stories of young entrepreneurs to come.
In November of 2013, voters in Washington approved Initiative 502 which legalized the recreational use of cannabis for adults. The same amendment legalized the retail sale of recreational marijuana, but the first recreational dispensary did not open doors of operation until July 2014.
Initiative 502 legalized marijuana, but it is restricts where it is acceptable to consume it. It cannot be used in public, hotels, or most rental properties. Therefore many people have no place to consume legally. Seattle’s City Attorney, Pete Holmes, is pushing to legalize and license cannabis vapor lounges to meet this need for adult tourists and residents alike.
Holmes (pictured above) was a proponent for passing Initiative 502 in the state. Now he says he aims to align city and state marijuana laws with an extensive plan. The plan is outlined in a twenty page policy-memo, and giving people a legal environment in which to consume cannabis is just one part of a whole. He explained to King 5 News,
“Single family homeowners have a legal place to consume marijuana; others however, such as out-of-town visitors, the homeless, and renters and condominium owners whose buildings do not permit marijuana use, have fewer options. You can enforce that law much better if you, at the same time provide, an outlet for that demand.”
Only adults aged 21 years and older would be allowed inside the proposed cannabis lounges. For health reasons, instead of smoking the plant, consumers would have to vaporize it, and establishments would be required to meet minimum ventilation requirements. These lounges would not be permitted to provide cannabis, so consumers would be required to bring their own. Alcohol service inside of a cannabis vapor lounge would also be banned, but operators would have the option to serve food.
Before a vapor lounge could be licensed, approval from the City Council and a waiver from the health department must be obtained.
photo credit: vapordelight, seattleweekly
The legalization of weed in Washington has brought an onslaught of marijuana delivery services, and none of them are legal. This is why Seattle’s Mayor Ed Murray issued a statement through his policy manager last Wednesday vowing to take action against them.
Jason Kelly is a spokesman for the mayor’s office. He said that the new actions against these illicit delivery services will, “ensure minors don’t have access to marijuana and to ensure medical marijuana operations are serving patients that have appropriate medical authorizations.”
According to the Mayor’s Policy Manager David Mendoza, this issue is spiraling out of control for the city. He says that between 7 and 10 marijuana delivery services advertise in The Stranger each week, many of them targeting tourists and buyers without medical cards. A quick Craigslist search confirms that there are an abundance of the services (some of them open 24 hours) still operating without remorse. Mendoza says, “They’re continuing to grow. There is no provision for them. We feel we should close them down.”
Even with the legality of cannabis in the state, the city will begin a well-measured approach to shut down illegally operating services. David Mendoza said that the first strike and would mean they seize your product and tell you to close. Subsequent infractions would result in arrests according to the Mayor’s office.
It seems evident that the Seattle Mayor is only aiming to curb the spread of the delivery services, and not shut down weed in the city. However, with the very limited amount of licensed recreational stores currently operating it is likely that many consumers will turn to ‘grey market’ delivery services that operate without proper licensing.
Improvements to the regulatory system in Washington state are coming, but not quickly enough. There are still some bumps in the road ahead for Washington State as their first full year of legalization unfolds. Presumably they will learn from each bump in the road.
Photo Credit: Seattle Municipal Archives
Silver Princess is a 93 year old great grandmother and resident of Washington in the northwest corner of the United States. Silver Princess has been a law abiding citizen for 93 years, so she has never tried marijuana before. However, since voters legalized marijuana within the state by passing Initiative 502 in 2012, Silver Princess decided that she would like to try smoking it for the first time now that it is no longer against the law.
So, as any good son would do, Open Sky, procured a single cannabis joint for the two of them to share. In the spirit of experimentation, the pair decided to film their first experience with marijuana for the rest of the world to watch. Although neither Open Sky nor Silver Princess have ever smoke cannabis before, both of them have smoked cigarettes in the past, so they were hopeful in their abilities to inhale.
The first three minutes of the video, Open Sky, thoroughly explains how he was able to obtain the joint from the wife of a friend. The full video is 12 minutes long, so the videos below a broken out into entertaining segments.
The video below will start right before the joint is sparked, where OpenSky points out, “It smells kind of foul, but i’m sure its like potent and stuff.” It will end right after he explains to his mother how to inhale.
Now, they actually spark the joint. Silver Princess shares her thoughts, and has a case of the giggles.
About five minutes into smoking, Open Sky announces, “I wonder if I’m starting to feel a little differently. I think I might be kinda like a little tingly or something.”
Silver Princess shares her thoughts in the video below. OpenSky insists she is a natural.
Although parts of this 12 minute video make it difficult to believe these two have never smoked marijuana before, at the very end of the video, Open Sky summarizes the lack luster findings of this social experiment. Silver Princess went to sleep after her first sample of cannabis, and Open Sky did not really enjoy the over-all feelings he experienced.
Maybe the second time will be better for these two adventurous souls.
photo credit: wikimedia