24 September 2011

Farmers market for medical marijuana patients sprouts up in White Center

Mike Keysor, 56, and his team members were working hard on a balmy Friday afternoon, preparing the space at 9640 16th Ave S.W. for their weekend opening as the Northwest Cannabis Market in White Center.

Keysor, manager of the market, said the space will be used as a private farmer’s market and information hub where medical marijuana patients, collective garden cooperatives and patient growers can connect to form grower-patient relationships.

The market opens on Saturday, Sept. 23 and will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, and Keysor said they may expand to three days in the future.

As an information hub, Keysor envisions “an exchange of ideas” where patients can learn about the different variations of medicinal cannabis and learn how to set up their own collective (or private) gardens. He also plans to have attorneys and real estate professionals on hand to provide people with a roadmap to understanding the tricky legal landscape of medical marijuana in Washington.

“We are really patient oriented,” he said, “giving them a place where they can take the time to learn about different medicines and the law.”

On their opening weekend, Keysor is making spaces available to vendors for free. Patients interested in checking the market out will need to bring their tamper-proof doctor’s authorization and Washington State identification, at which time the market will verify their authorization.

The NW Cannabis Market will have security on the weekends and Keysor said no medicinal cannabis is stored at the facility beyond market hours.

With collective gardens getting the OK from Olympia and Gov. Gregoire in the latest version of Washington’s medical marijuana law, and dispensaries getting shut down across most of the state (except for Seattle and King County), Keysor believes the farmer’s market model is a good fit – connecting patients who are unable to grow directly with providers, and those interested in starting up or becoming part of a collective garden an environment to cultivate their plans.

Keysor said the NW Cannabis Market was originally slated to open in Everett in July, but a last minute warning from law enforcement the night before opening day stopped them in their tracks (Keysor said he was told a SWAT team would raid the market). The following Monday Everett’s City Council enacted a one-year moratorium on collective gardens and it was time to look elsewhere.

Keysor said he chose White Center because the rent was reasonable and the space at 9640 16th Ave S.W. was large enough, although not as large as he hoped for, to house a market environment. He said the high concentration of authorized patients in King County and Seattle also played a role in the decision.

Keysor said he doesn’t plan to have extravagant signage for the NW Cannabis Market, just the name and hours on the front door.

His future plans include installing a machine that details the chemical makeup of different marijuana strains vendors bring to the market, so patients can make more informed decisions on what will work best for their ailments. Keysor said testing for mold and non-organic chemicals will be important as well, especially for liver and kidney transplant patients who are especially sensitive to mold.

The NW Cannabis Market will become the third medical marijuana business in White Center, joining the Game Collective Lounge and Herban Legends which both opened in May. There's also the Northwest Patient Resource Center at the corner of 35th and Roxbury just a few blocks away.

King County Sheriff’s Office Major James Graddon, speaking to the North Highline UAC in August, said medical marijuana laws “remain a very gray area” for law enforcement in the county, and KCSO will take a careful approach to enforcement with businesses as they await clear direction from prosecutors and state legislators.

23 September, 2011 by Ty Swenson

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