Washington Bud Company
Smokey Point, WA
I house well over 1,000 contacts in my phone’s address book, and I tend to not answer a call if the name does not pop up as someone I know. But in May I did answer an unknown caller and was glad I did. The solicitor claimed that our property qualified for a zero-down, low-interest loan through a solar installation program created with local credit unions.
I doubted the information and explained that we are a cannabis company and, although we would love to have solar paid with a loan like normal people receive, we likely do not qualify for the program. I was assured that they already did the groundwork and all the properties in our R5 zone were qualified. I requested a double-check before I did any paperwork.
Two days later, the company salesperson called back with confirmation that we did, indeed, qualify as long as our credit was okay. They sent me the application, I filled it out and by the next week we had been approved for a $200,000 loan. The prospect of building a 145-unit solar panel field on our property, coupled with the fact we qualified for a normal terms loan, gave me hope that the landscape for financial acceptance was changing.
The panels would save us around $2,400 a month in electrical billing while the loan payment was a bit under $800 so we would gain about $1,600 in additional cash flow each month. I call that a big win-win-win!
The site visit was scheduled for mid-June. A crew arrived and checked out our electrical panel; it was good to go. The transformer in the street was perfect and needed no upgrades. They flew a drone over the property to check tree heights and sun angles. We discussed the logistics of getting equipment and concrete to the back of the property before the rains came. We deliberated on the path of the conduits, the timeline of installation and the ability to expand if ever needed. They assured us they would take care of all permit applications and installation costs.
A few weeks later, they informed me the required permit from Snohomish County Public Utility District to connect to the electrical grid was approved. It would not be long before they would schedule the work.
Then, all went silent. I let four weeks go by over summer travels and then began to make phone calls that were rarely returned. I got an email in early August that the underwriter for the loan had some issues, but people from the solar company assured me they would be on top of it and get the project funded as planned.
The whole thing collapsed on August 13, 2021. The credit union underwriter noticed a use code assigned to our property that indicated we grow and process cannabis. The president of the credit union was brought into the mix and confirmed the bank’s policy of not working with people in the cannabis industry. The win-win-win turned into a giant won’t-won’t-won’t.
What a waste of time, hope and energy. I quit answering unknown callers again.
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.