By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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“Absolutely,” said organizer Nicole Black on Saturday afternoon, when asked if the inaugural “Hempapalooza” at her dispensary, Brinnon Herbal Collective at 91 Corey St., was a success.
As of about 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Black said about 30 people had come through the doors to peruse the wares, both smokable and edible products, that seven medical marijuana vendors set up in the yard behind the building.
Black said the visitors were split about evenly between medical marijuana patients with authorization to use the drug and non-patients curious about medicinal pot.
“The feedback, most notably the feedback from non-patients, has been fantastic,” Black said.
Black said vendors were happy to answer questions.
“We’ve had people arrive that are Baby Boomers, mature adults, and just ask questions,” Black said.
“The feedback I got from them [was], ‘Thank you, thank you for providing a place to do it.’”
The identification and valid state medical marijuana authorization of each patient was checked by Black’s staff, and each was given a red stamp to show the vendors.
No stamp, no product; not even samples.
Sabin King and Jeremy Pease, who operate Ology Infusions in Port Townsend, were among the vendors at the gathering.
Pease, who also had a table at a similar farmers market in Port Townsend in April, said he supports these sorts of events for the patient-to-patient communications they promote.
“I would love to see more of these,” Pease said.
“I just think it’s all about education,” King said.
One medical pot patient, who declined to be named, said the availability of medical marijuana through dispensaries has made her unafraid of getting the medicine she relies on to manage her chronic pain.
Medical marijuana was made legal in Washington state with the 1998 passage of Initiative 692.
Rules are separate from those for recreational marijuana, which was legalized in November 2012 when voters passed Initiative 502. The first retail shops are expected to open in the state in early July.
Several medical marijuana dispensaries currently operate on the North Olympic Peninsula.
King and Pease were offering both medical marijuana in bud form, to be smoked, and bags of trail mix infused with THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
They provide their products to dispensaries in Port Angeles and Port Townsend.
The business partners said they are considering expanding their line to oil-infused honey, candy and possibly drinks.
Pease said he is a medical marijuana patient who smokes to relieve chronic foot pain, while King said she eats food laced with THC, referred to as “medibles,” to help with chronic back pain and sleeping problems.
“It completely reset my sleeping pattern,” King said,
King said she’s so sensitive to the potent plant that she simply can’t smoke it and sometimes can’t be in the same room as marijuana oil being processed.
Pease, who has been a medicinal pot provider for about three and a half years, said he got licensed to grow his own medical pot so he could control his own treatment.
Two tables away from Pease and King sat Susie Shafer, offering gluten-free cookies and brownies infused with marijuana oil, all of which she makes herself.
“I’m putting my baking experience to use in the medical community,” said Shafer, who had owned a bakery in Port Hadlock.
Shafer, a medicinal pot patient who takes it for her fibromyalgia, said she was glad to meet with both fellow vendors and patients at the farmers market.
She said she had talked with some medicinal pot growers at the event about providing her with marijuana “trimmings,” the pieces of the pot bud trimmed off that she uses in her cookies and other confections.
Among those dropping by the gathering were Jefferson County commissioner candidate Dan Toepper.
Toepper, 53, is running for the District 3 commissioner seat currently held by John Austin, who is not seeking re-election.
Toepper, not a medicinal pot patient, said he was there to learn about the issue from the people directly affected by it.
He said he also wanted to get medicinal’s patients opinions on how the county should eventually handle recreational marijuana.
“How the people of the county want to approach it,” said Toepper, of Port Ludlow.
Toepper has thrown his hat in the ring alongside Kathleen Kler, 64, and Joe Baisch, 66, both of Quilcene, and Alex Borgeson, 44, both of Port Ludlow, for the county commissioner seat.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.