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Shelton Mason County Journal
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August 28, 2014     Shelton Mason County Journal
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August 28, 2014

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Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 - Mason County Journal - Page C-13 Nick Browne of Highwater Farms in the Skokomish Valley was granted the first producer license in Mason County. Journal photo by Tom Hyde Marijuana producers, processors navigate laws to help create an accepted trade It's the biggest business opportunity since cellphones, a new crop to boost struggling farming communities and the end of a modern prohibition. That's how Mason County's marijuana producers and processors de- scribe the advent of a legal commercial Cannabis industry in Washing- ton, made possible by the passage of Initiative 502 by voters in Novem- By NATALIE JOHNSON ber 2012. "With the indoor grow, we've got a lot more control but we have to invest a lot more money," "If I could have started the first brewery of the growing season. Fuhr said. aider prohibition ..." Nick Browne mused, "In the main growing season, the outdoorFuhr has applied for both producer and pro- "Wouldn't you do it? There's not going to be an- temperature here and the humidity is actually cessor licenses with the liquor board, but has other chance to get into something like this on perfect for the plant," he said. not received either license. the ground floor." The hoop houses are slightly warmer on the Like many applicants, Fuhr was planning Browne's Highwater Farms in the Skokom- inside than the outside, on being licensed and operational by February. ish River Valley was granted the first producer "That five or six degrees is a huge difference," However, navigating state and local require- license in Mason County in late March, and as Browne said. ments for producers and processors has been of Aug. 25, was one of four licensed growers in Certain strains will react better than others harder than Agropack's owners expected. the county, to outdoor growing, he said. "They're bankrupting us right now," he said. Statewide as of Aug. 25, 172 producer and Brown plans to use Orange and Cheese "We're all stumbling around in the dark trying 133 processor licenses have been issued,strains. The Cheese strain originates in the to figure out what last week's change (in the The Liquor Control Board approved his Tier United Kingdom, which has a similar climate to law) will do to us." 2 operation for 7,000 feet of plant canopy space. Western Washington. Both strains have short Agropack had to relocate to a property on That amounts to about 200 plants, Brownegrowing cycles, which make them ideal for out- Cady Farms Road west of Shelton after learning said. door, summer growing, its original location was too close to an at-home The Liquor Control Board allows three tiers "They only need seven weeks of good summer day care. The change pushed its application to of plant canopy sizes. Tier 1 allows for up to weather to finish them off," he said. the bottom of the state's stack, Fuhr said. 2,000 square feet of plant canopy, Tier 2 allows Browne expects his overhead cost to be sig- Not long after finding a new location, and for 7,000 feet and Tier 3 allows for 10,000 to nificantly lower since he is growing outside. He submitting new paperwork, Fuhr learned that 30,000 square feet of plant canopy, also plans to fill a niche market for organic, out- the state Liquor Control Board had amended His operation is unusual because he plans to door marijuana, the rule, and that Agropack's original location cultivate his plants outdoors. "I just want to grow high-quality organic would have been allowed. "It's a completely different animal," Browne products ... and be able to make a living farm- Now their application is on hold to give the said, of growing marijuana indoors versus out- ing my land," he said. "I kind of want to prove FBI time to do a background check on its own- doors, it can be done on a small scale, it can be done ers, Fuhr said. Now Fuhr said he doesn't know However, Browne has farmed vegetables and profitably, it can be extremely environmentally when to expect a license. other crops at Highwater Farms for the past 11 friendly." While Agropack has struggled with state and years. He plans to continue grow squash, toma- local requirements, Browne said he had a fairly toes and other crops on other parts of the farm. APPLICANTS FACE DELAYS easy time being licensed. "Growing outdoors really comes down to your Agropack, owned in part by Steve Fuhr of"I wasn't really surprised at all -- I think strain selection," he said. "It's basically farming Union, is also a Tier 2 operation, and plans to they did a great job," he said. "I was impressed. the same way you would farm any crop." build out to a 7,000-foot plant canopy as well. "Everyone at the county has been super helpful. Browne uses hoop houses, or temporary However, their operation will be indoors, and greenhouses, to nurse the plants in colder parts include both producing and processing, see page C-14