Shawn DeNae: The Exhausting Work of A Cannabis Business Advocate

By Shawn DeNae

Advocating for cannabis reform is energy consuming business.  I’m tired and I’m not alone.

When I became involved in late 2010, I fed off the intense enthusiasm and passion of the cannabis community.  There was a huge push to get an medical marijuana bill passed and via a miracle, SB5073 passed both the House and Senate in April 2011 and went to the Governor’s office where it was gutted and we have been fighting to regain ground ever since.

A variety of lawyers helped us navigate how to continue to bring safe medicine to patients under the convoluted ‘Collective Garden’ model that survived in 5073.  The tide of Initiative 502 was coming and we desperately wanted medical to have solid ground before recreational weed came into being.

My first demonstration in the Spring of 2012 was on the steps of the Obama headquarters in Seattle with the Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics.  “Indivisible with Liberty and Justice for All”, we chanted against bolted doors bouncing pickets with Attorney General Eric Holder’s image.  It was then I began to bond with the community as we gathered weekly under the separate banners of CCSE, Cannabis Defense Coalition (I shiver at the memory of that cold, dark warehouse where we met), the Cannabis Action Coalition and the various sub-committees that often saw the same dedicated faces.

Agonizing hours of breaking down I-502 led me to vote against it in November of 2012; the hardest vote to date for me.  I had campaigned against I-502 mostly due to the low 5 nanogram threshold for DUIs and the exorbitant sin tax on wholesale products. As my pen hovered over the ballet, I could not believe I was actually voting against legalizing marijuana!

But it passed and my husband and I entered the system as a Tier II applicant and vowed to fight another day to save medical and work on the prohibitively expensive tax.   Meetings with the Liquor Control Board during their rule making time simply added to the meetings and dissemination of information.   Massive energy and hundreds of miles were spent throughout 2013 looking at properties that might comply with the frequently changing rules.  We found a beautiful location while helping to successfully advocate Snohomish County Council to open up R5 zoning for marijuana production.  (see related story at www.seattlepi.com)

The combined veto of the medical cannabis law followed by the overwhelming victory of the recreational law put a wedge into the strongly opinionated heritage cannabis community.  We needed to strengthen the medical law in the 2014 session so under strong encouragement, I agreed to chair the Health Before Happy Hour committee.  We needed consensus in the community and did a darn good job getting it; although some meetings were electrified with emotions. We were under the gun with a short session in 2014 so under the guidance of Kari Boiter and American’s for Safe Access, we revived the SB5073 language that had garnered so much support 2 years earlier and created the Rick Simpson Memorial Act to finally establish a legal system for patients and those that provide for them.  Back to Olympia we went!

The lawmakers were in a different mood about marijuana by then; lumping all cannabis under the eye glass of the new, unproven, unimplemented recreational law.  They were simply tired of discussing marijuana with emotionally charged and often dank smelling advocates who bombarded their small offices.  After walking with my Senator between buildings to avoid ‘the red shirt’s’ jeers, I could not blame them.  Our bill died in committee but we made a good impression that would hopefully set us up for victory in 2015.

My efforts to help in Olympia this year got waylaid on October 1, 2014 by a decision from the SnoCo Council to reverse the previously permitted R5 zoning.  Since then, my efforts have overwhelming been towards this local level fight.

The overall umbrella lesson in all this is: The cannabis community needs professional help.  Help in community organizing to educate communities and their local lawmakers.  Help in writing logical cannabis bills. Help in lobby efforts to support those bills.  Budgets are needed for even the simple things like printing and meeting space costs.   Membership dues need paid to the supportive organizations like the CCSE, ASA, NCIA, WAMJA, NWPP, WACA and the MJBA.  Grassroots work has taken us far, just look at the success of Hempfest, but this legalization effort needs professionals with influence within our local, state and national governments or I fear big business will envelope the cottage cannabis community.  It is past time for those who are thriving in the medical and recreational worlds to start contributing rather than continuing to rely on a small group of volunteer advocates to do the heavy lifting.

 

Meet The Women Behind “The Power of Politics”

WASHINGTON: In preparation for tomorrow evening’s historic gathering, MJNewsNetwork sat down with the Washington power women behind the “Power of Politics” – ladies from both sides of the political aisle, representing recreational and medical marijuana business owners – to ask them about tomorrow’s historic event.  Organized by the MJBA Women’s Alliance, and sponsored by Eden Labs, Washington Bud Company and Cannabis Basics, the exclusive evening of information, inspiration and activation takes place on Wednesday, March 25th, 6PM at the Palace Ballroom in Seattle.

Since Colorado and Washington first voted to legalize recreational marijuana use in late 2012, the legal cannabis market has grown from $1.5 billion in 2013 to $2.7 billion last year, according to industry estimates. That kind of velocity gets the attention of investors, many of whom focus on tech.

AC Braddock, CEO of Eden Labs

 

AC Braddock, CEO of Eden Labs, Presenting Sponsor of “Power of Politics” and National Sponsor of MJBA:

We have an opportunity as a state to create two separate and hugely successful industries: Adult Use (Recreational) and Medical Treatment.   Currently Medical is in a legal grey area which does no one any good.  This needs to be changed immediately and legislated in such a way as to compliment and support both industries.  Washington has a long history of Best Practices and some of the most successful companies on the planet.    We can lead the nation in research, consumer protection, sustainability, social responsibility while supporting our historic micro business culture and big industry.  We are a state of innovators and activists…a powerful combination when we work together for change.

Why should women in the cannabis industry become politically engaged? 

Legislators are very busy people who are multi tasking as best they can to represent your voice.  They need factual information, real-life perspectives, problem solving suggestions and a personal connection to effectively legislate on your behalf. No one wants to make a bad decision, making them entirely open to advisement and suggestion. It is profoundly important to listen to their perspective and questions and then offer your assistance.  Your voice is truly the future of the industry.

And lastly, who should come to this event and why?

Women are the largest growing sector in the Cannabis industry not only as a market, but also as business entrepreneurs and medical practitioners who bring a set of sensibilities that are ESSENTIAL for the paradigm shifts happening in the business world.  There is nothing to hold you back and we are here to support and promote you.  Be the very best and most powerful you can be…we are.

 

 we are allowed to attend, but NOT allowed to testify. However, we can send written comments that will be delivered to the Planning Commission via sally.evans@snoco.org.

Shawn DeNae, President of Washington Bud Company

 

Shawn DeNae, President of Washington Bud Company, Mistress of Ceremonies and MJBA National Sponsor

This is the first time in the history of mankind that women are poised to lead an industry and this ancient yet infant industry is it! The atmosphere is not only favorable but supportive; blame it on the Age of Aquarius, [Facebook COO] Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In or the female nature of the plant we love.

Why should women in the cannabis industry become politically engaged? 

Now is the time the important foundation of legal cannabis is being planned and women are helping guide that conversation.   Direct communication with our lawmakers is vital and that is why the MJBA Women’s Alliance chose to have this event now.  We do not have the luxury of decades to become part of each other’s circles of influence.  We need to know our lawmakers and they need to know the pioneering women, the entrepreneurial women and the legacy women of cannabis.  We must build trust so we can cross the bridge to legitimacy in every corner of politics beginning at the local level.

Who should come to this event and why?

Join us in the relaxed atmosphere of the lovely Palace Ballroom while we get a glimpse into what inspired these politically placed women to step up and take charge.  They can be our mentors to being more effective at creating change toward a future we are proud to pass along.

I’m excited to be Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening and have some really juicy questions lined up! You’ll want to be there; bring your story and come make “herstory” with us!
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=210Y9i4uEWc]

Expected speakers will include Republican Senator Ann Rivers, author of the market consolidating SB 5052; Democratic Senator Jeanne-Kohl-Welles, author of SB 6083 calling for home grow for all adults 21+; Bellingham City Councilwoman Pinky Vargas, Mayor of Sultan Carolyn Eslick; Seattle City Councilwoman Jean Godden, along with the MJBA Women’s Alliance’s cadre of  business leaders, including Cannabis Basic’s founder Ah Warner – who helped to write the HABA bill, which would allow for the legal sale of  “topicals” — salves and lotions made with low-levels of THC, and Joy Beckerman, President at WA State Chapter of the Hemp Industries Association, a leading activist helping to legalize industrial hemp in the state.will explore how Washington’s medical and recreational laws are changing, and how those changes will impact operators of the state’s cannabis businesses.

 

 

 

Senators Ann Rivers, Jeanne-Kohl Wells Keynote “The Power of Politics” on Wednesday, March 25th in Seattle

WASHINGTON: The legal landscape for marijuana businesses in Washington is about to change radically as a result of new legislation under consideration in Olympia designed to bring the state’s unregulated MMJ system together with its nascent I-502 recreational pot industry. The authors of two leading marijuana bills are veteran women lawmakers – and to sell these changes through to the cannabusiness community – both will be featured speakers at “The Power of Politics,” a gathering of the important female cannabis executives. Organized by the MJBA Women’s Alliance, and sponsored by Eden Labs, Washington Bud Company and Cannabis Basics, the exclusive evening of information, inspiration and activation takes place on Wednesday, March 25th, 6PM at the Palace Ballroom in Seattle.

Republican Senator Ann Rivers, author of the market consolidating SB 5052, and Democratic Senator Jeanne-Kohl-Welles, author of SB 6083 calling for home grow for all adults 21+, will explore how Washington’s medical and recreational laws are changing, and how those changes will impact operators of the state’s cannabis businesses.

“This is the first time in the history of mankind that women are poised to lead an industry,” mistress of ceremonies and Washington Bud Company founder Shawn DeNae told MJNN in an exclusive conversation.  “Blame it on the Age of Aquarius, on [Facebook COO]  Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In’ or the female nature of the plant we love! Now is the time the important foundation of legal cannabis is being planned and women are helping guide that conversation.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=210Y9i4uEWc&w=560&h=315]

Joining Senators Kohl-Welles and Rivers, will be Bellingham City Councilwoman Pinky Vargas, Mayor of Sultan Carolyn Eslick and Seattle City Councilwoman Jean Godden, along with the MJBA Women’s Alliance’s cadre of  business leaders, including Cannabis Basic’s founder Ah Warner – who helped to write the HABA bill, which would allow for the legal sale of  “topicals” — salves and lotions made with low-levels of THC, and Joy Beckerman, President at WA State Chapter of the Hemp Industries Association, a leading activist helping to legalize industrial hemp in the state.

“Direct communication with our lawmakers is vital and that is why the MJBA Women’s Alliance chose to have this event now,” DeNae explained. “ We do not have the luxury of decades to become part of each other’s circles of influence.  We need to know our lawmakers and they need to know the pioneering women, the entrepreneurial women and the legacy women of cannabis.  We must build trust so we can cross the bridge to legitimacy in every corner of politics beginning at the local level.”

MJBA Women’s Alliance’s “The Power of Politics” takes place on Wednesday, March 25th at 6PM at the Palace Ballroom in downtown Seattle. Tix are available online via EventBrite: 

Snohomish WA Pot Farms ‘Complete Shock’ to Neighbors

WASHINGTON: The Wagner Lake community just outside of Monroe in Snohomish County offers a tranquil lifestyle featuring mountain views, a lake for swimming, and now…..a pot farm.

Many neighbors had no idea about the new operation until bulldozers and greenhouses started showing up on a ten-acre parcel near them this summer.

“It was a complete shock! We had no idea, no idea,” said Dean Keppler whose family has lived in the area for nearly 40 years. “There were no public notice signs, there were no land action warnings.”

None of the neighbors had heard about public hearings leading up to the Snohomish County Council’s decision on November 13, 2013, to allow marijuana growing and processing operations in what is referred to as R-5 zoning. R-5 zones are rural areas with a minimum of five acre plots, but over the years some plots have been subdivided. That’s allowed for neighborhoods to emerge. Other R-5 zones feature remote, large lots where few people live.

Snohomish County was one of the first to allow growing and processing operations in R-5 zones.

Snohomish County Planning Commission Hearing Set For Nov 18th

Jamie Curtismith                           Shawn DeNae
curtismith@hotmail.com             Shawndenae11@gmail.com

This is a reminder that the Snohomish County Planning Commission will be given a marijuana briefing on November 18, 2014 (5:30pm-2nd floor of 3000 Rockefeller Ave in Everett). They will discuss council’s draft proposal, Motion No. 14-318 and directing PDS to revise the permanent regulations for marijuana-related facilities. From my understanding, we are allowed to attend, but NOT allowed to testify. However, we can send written comments that will be delivered to the Planning Commission via sally.evans@snoco.org.

Here is a recap of motion 14-318:

Marijuana processing and marijuana production would change from permitted to conditional uses in the R-5 zone. No specific standards are included in the draft.

  1. A new code section would restrict medical marijuana businesses from locating near schools, public parks, and the other sensitive uses where state law restricts licensing of I-502 marijuana businesses.
  2. All marijuana businesses would also be restricted within 1,000 feet of airports and airparks.
  3. New marijuana collective gardens, dispensaries, and access points would be restricted from locating within one mile of existing marijuana collective gardens, dispensaries, and access points, and a maximum of one collective garden would be allowed per parcel.

All the relevant documents and meeting information can be found on the new Snohomish County Marijuana Website:

Just to clarify, the two emergency ordinances upheld at Wednesday’s Public Hearing have already been implemented. Both rulings halted the application process for County permits in the R5 and CRC. 14-086 related to 502 businesses and 14-087 related to MMJ establishments. If you missed the meeting, the three+ hours of public testimony can be reviewed here:

Thank you to everyone who gave compelling testimony and/or physically supported the cause by wearing green. Shawn Denae sent a fantastic overview and ‘next steps’ e-mail a few days ago, so I won’t repeat that here. If you did not receive that information, then let either of us know and we will forward you the suggestions (our contact information is below).

I am working on setting up a meeting between marijuana business owners and John Lovick, the current Snohomish County Executive. He has veto authority, so if we can educate him on the reality of the industry, we may have more leverage on influencing the planning department to make ‘appropriate’ recommendations, but we need to start compiling those suggestions. I will follow-up with e-mails as ideas begin to flow.

Open Letter To Snohomish, WA Marijuana Companies

By Jamie Curtismith and Shawn DeNae, Washington Bud Co

To Snohomish County Area Marijuana Business Owners-

In August 2014, the Snohomish County Executive Council proposed draft regulations to put further restrictions on I-502 operations and limits where medical dispensaries can do business. Because of the political power and financial influence of one reefer mad developer, the Planning Department has pushed these changes through the system over the past month, and on October 1st, the Council will vote to make these changes permanent. These changes will impact EVERY 502/MMJ producer/collective and retailer/dispensary.

Marijuana Business Owners will be meeting On Sunday, September 28th from 2-4pm at the Firewheel Community Coffeehouse at 2727 Colby Ave in Everett to discuss the details of this development and to devise a strategy that represents the best interests of not only industry businesses, but for the local communities who voted to support marijuana legalization. Even if your business is regulated by separate city ordinances, Snohomish County policy directly influences how local municipalities govern. Please plan to attend so that we can make our voices heard.

The documents pertaining to Ordinance 13-085/86 and Motion 14-318 to support this meeting are located on the Snohomish County website for your review.

If this issues goes to the Executive Committee as planned, then please also attend the Council General Legislative Session on Oct 1, 2014 at 9am. Council Public Meetings and Public Hearings are generally held in the Henry M. Jackson Board Room, 8th Floor, Robert J. Drewel Building (Administration Building East), 3000 Rockefeller, Everett. Please call the Council office at 425-388-3494 to confirm.

Lastly, please forward this information to other industry business owners, and please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Thank You,

Jamie Curtismith

curtismith@hotmail.com

Shawn DeNae

Washington Bud Co

Shawndenae11@gmail.com

The Medical Cannabis Finish Line Is In Sight

image011By Shawn DeNae

The stage is set, the contenders are in place and we either cross that finish line by legitimizing medicinal use, cultivation and dispensing of medical cannabis in law or it’s finished all together.

 

A dedicated group striving to protect medical cannabis access in Washington State gathered on Thursday as starters in a sprint.  Kari Boiter, the Americans for Safe Access National Advocate of the Year, lead the discussion with bullet strength detail.  [Read more…]