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Washington: Schools Turn Down Marijuana Farmer's $14,000 Donation

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

“I never thought it’d be a problem to give money away,” said marijuana farmer Randy Williams, the owner of Fireweed Farm, just north of Prosser, Washington. School officials on Monday flatly turned down a $14,000 donation from Williams, claiming they were "taking a stand" against youth marijuana use.

"We're not taking it. End of story," snapped Ray Tolcacher, Prosser School District superintendent.

"That's a mistake on their end because they're not helping anything," Williams said after visiting the school district office last week to try to make the donation. Tolcacher, who was out at the time, called the would-be donor on the telephone on Monday to turn down the money.

Williams said his next choice for the donation is the Boys & Girls Club of Benton and Franklin Counties; that youth nonprofit will "evaluate internally," according to executive director Brian Ace. If they turn him down, he might offer the money to the VFW, Williams said, reports Ross Courtney of the Yakima Herald-Republic.

Williams, one of the few legally licensed marijuana farmers in Yakima Valley, promised at a first-ever marijuana auction November 15 at his farm to donate the proceeds of one "low-grade" lot to local schools. The weed brought in about $13,500; Williams kicked in the difference to make it an even $14K.

Washington: Marijuana Retailers Hope Harvest Will Lower Prices, Combat Black Market

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With licensed producers of marijuana bringing in autumn's outdoor harvest, retailers who own the recreational cannabis stores created by limited legalization measure I-502 are hoping to lower prices enough to diminish the black market -- which was one of the main justifications for the law passed by state voters two years ago.

But the most that store owners like Mary Van de Graaf, owner of Mill Creek A, one of two licensed marijuana shops in Union Gap, can hope for is making a bit of a dent. "We'll slow it down, yeah,"
Van de Graaf said, reports Ross Courtney of the Yakima Herald-Republic.

So far, even I-502 store owners like Van de Graaf have to admit that legalizing recreational marijuana has done almost nothing to combat black market street sales, where dealers don't pay taxes or check the ages of their customers.

Washington's brand of limited "legalization" apparently hasn't yet made any dent at all in illegal grows. In fact, there's an increase this year in illegal grows on tribal lands, public lands and in back yards, according to Jodie Underwood, a spokeswoman for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration's regional office in Seattle.

On Monday, law enforcement confiscated 20 pounds of processed marijuana and 43 plants in Zillah, Washington; police arrested two men the same day for stealing medical marijuana from a home in Selah.

Washington: First Day of Legal Marijuana Sales Sees High Prices, Long Lines

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Twenty months after Washington's voters approved limited marijuana legalization measure Initiative 502, the first licensed recreational cannabis stores in the state opened on Tuesday to long lines. With only four shops open statewide of 24 that received licenses on Monday, prices were high and competition was nonexistent.

Thomas Snyder of Richland went to Altitude in Prosser at 9 a.m. for Tuesday's grand opening. "I didn't actually go inside," Snyder told Hemp News on Wednesday. "I decided we couldn't afford two grams (at $30 each), so I let my wife go in while I watched the kids in the car."

"The place was very professional," Snyder told us. "The line was maybe an hour and a half wait when we got there an hour after they opened. Twice while I was waiting, the staff came outside and handed out bottled water and soda."

But inquiring minds want to know: Was the marijuana any good?

"Not too bad at all," Snyder said of the weed's quality. "It could have used a longer cure, but that's what happens when it's all rushed to get to market."

Altitude is only serving 300 customers a day until later this month, when the supply catches up with the demand, according to Snyder, who is an authorized medical marijuana patient.

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