By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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James Loe, who opened the first medical pot facility in Port Townsend in August 2013 and was unable to acquire a recreational license, is expanding his offerings for those who have state authorizations for medical use.
His facility, which opened as the Townsend Herbal Collective in August 2013 at 1139 Water St., reopened under a new name, Cannabis Hemporium, on Monday.
Earlier this year, the dispensary was acquired by MedCannabis Pharma, a Carrollton, Texas-based company that owns medical marijuana outlets in several states.
Under these auspices, Loe will open a second facility today at 21 Shine Road in Port Ludlow under the Cannabis Hemporium name, with a third location planned in Kingston.
Medical marijuana facilities cannot sell to anyone without medical authorization, but many don’t know the distinction and are disappointed when Loe won’t serve them, he said.
Loe said about 15 or 20 people a day visit the store and walk away disappointed.
“We tell them where they can get a medical authorization, or we send them down to Sea Change Cannabis in Discovery Bay on weekends,” Loe said.
As far as recreational marijuana goes, only two Peninsula retailers have acquired state licenses, only one is in business, and that one is finding it hard to get enough to stay open longer than one day a week.
The state Liquor Control Board’s licensing of growers has lagged behind demand, and there is a statewide shortage of legal marijuana for sale.
Sea Change Cannabis, 282332 U.S. Highway 101 in Discovery Bay, the Peninsula’s first retail marijuana store, opened its doors July 25 with the intention of operating on weekends until enough marijuana was available to open five days a week.
But during its four weekend of operation, supply has been so low — and demand so high — that the store has always sold out early, according to owner Greg Brotherton.
Brotherton has been selling one-eighth of an ounce for about $60 and grams for $20, which is about double what is charged at medical outlets.
Forrest Thomsen, who has closed a medical marijuana dispensary in Port Hadlock, is the second entrepreneur on the Peninsula to get a state recreational marijuana license.
He is waiting to open until he can get a steady supply.
“We initially intended to open at the beginning of July, but we haven’t found enough product,” Thomsen said.
“We have a lot of vendors lined up, but it’s going to take a little longer to get enough to stay open more than a few days a week.”
Thomsen won’t commit to a date but said he could open in Port Hadlock in September.
Gracen Hook, owner of Peninsula Herbal at 1433 Sims Way, who was first in a state lottery to be considered for a license in Port Townsend, is eyeing a November opening. He does not have a license now.
The location has operated as a medical pot facility for a year. Hook said he won’t close a successful facility in favor of one that can open only a few days a week.
Hook said he could sell 3 to 5 pounds a day, but this depends on how many other retail shops are open in its proximity.
Hook has operated two medical facilities for the past year, one on Sims Way and another at 216 W. Patison St. in Port Hadlock, which he does not plan to convert to a recreational outlet.
Also operating a medical marijuana facility is Herbal Access at 2427 Sims Way.
Jefferson County is allowed to have four retail cannabis outlets: one in Port Townsend and three in the unincorporated areas, which includes Discovery Bay.
None of the others who won top spots in the state’s lottery for consideration of licenses — Chimacum Cannabis in Chimacum, What Now! in Brinnon or Sol Good Cannabis in Port Hadlock — has announced plans to open a store.
A lack of reliable supply and a last-minute rejection of a store site have held up Clallam County’s retail marijuana outlets.
“We’re shooting for not later than Oct. 1, but in reality, it’s probably going to be more like the 15th of September,” said Anthony Owen, owner of The Hidden Bush.
Owen expected to open his shop at 2840 E. U.S. Highway 101, but State Liquor Control Board officials denied that location after county officials said it was too close to a gymnastics studio frequented by young people.
That location was ready for a final inspection from the state, but Owen said he is making progress on another location on the highway outside of city limits.
“We got set back, but we’re back on the horse and getting our new space finished and ready to go,” he said. “There shouldn’t be a problem at this point.”
Malik Atwater is waiting for a steadier supply of marijuana before opening his Mr. Buds store on Marine Drive in Port Angeles.
Rodney Caldwell said earlier this month he too will wait for more marijuana to hit the market before opening Weed-R-Us on U.S. Highway 101 outside Port Angeles.
David Halpern’s Sequim shop is held up by the city’s ban on pot businesses. Last week, the council extended a moratorium on marijuana businesses in city limits for another six months.
Jennifer Brassfield of High Grade Organics shop in Forks did not return calls seeking an opening date.
Clallam County can have six retail stores: two in Port Angeles, one in Sequim and three anywhere else.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or email@example.com.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie contributed to this report.