Washington Bud Company
Smokey Point, WA
A small group of my girlfriends from high school still keep in touch. Growing up in Sturgis, South Dakota, with these women created lasting experiences; many revolved around learning about the vices of alcohol, cigarettes and pot. Decades later, we all still drink alcohol and one still smokes cigarettes, while I continue to be the only cannabis consumer in the group.
We celebrated our 31-year reunion together in 2011 and got reacquainted with each other as adults. Mary is in banking, Angie is a Realtor, Becky has been a court reporter for decades, Jayna is in city administration, and I was in transition at the time. Our construction business had taken a hard hit after the 2008 mortgage crisis, and I was really excited to be exploring the up-and-coming prospect of growing and selling cannabis legally.
Recently, I got a call from Jayna at the planning department for the city of Spearfish, South Dakota. South Dakota voted to legalize cannabis last November, and Jayna is in charge of figuring out local zoning regulations. A meeting with the mayor and city administrator revealed they “didn’t know what the heck we were talking about” so Jayna asked me if she, the mayor and the city administrator could come visit us to better understand what they are facing.
First, City Administrator Michael Harmon visited zoning-condensed cannabis stores along a mile stretch of Highway 99 on his way to meet us. We then toured Pioneer Nuggets, a grow set up in an Arlington warehouse, and Skagit Organics, a maker of medicinal oils. After a tour of our property, we ended on our deck for beers and further brainstorming.
We discussed who they wanted to attract into this new business. Would they consider consumption lounges on Main Street? How would they develop testing and packaging rules and who would oversee them? It was interesting to ponder how to improve on Washington’s implementation of legal cannabis production and sales.
Mike concluded that a city-run store would be more profitable and subject to less liability than cultivation and manufacturing. A store would also fit nicely near the I-90 exit to cater to tourists coming into the Black Hills. The city has an industrial zone that could cater to those that want to set up the supply side of the industry.
The more we discussed, the more Mayor Dana Boke kept shaking her head with the burden of decisions yet to be made, with South Dakota leaving the structural implementations up to local municipalities. It’s bound to be a hodge-podge of confusion, but they are determined to prepare Spearfish as best they can for the future of legal cannabis. I was happy to help, but I know we brought up more perplexing questions than solid answers.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: “Legalization is sexy but implementation sucks!”
Shawn DeNae is the CEO of Washington Bud Company, the first flower company in Washington to voluntarily test for both heavy metals and pesticides. Her family established their brand in 2012 to serve patients. She is actively involved in helping push for sensible cannabis regulations that support craft cannabis companies.