By reporter Steven Smalley
Legal marijuana – you knew it was coming.
Retailers can sell to consumers beginning in July, according to published reports. What you may not have considered is where the pot will grow – from seedling to salable commodity. Someone must cultivate it somewhere. Get ready…Seattle’s first state-sanctioned grow site – Sea of Green Farms – is located here in Magnolia.
“The reason we ended up in Magnolia is that we were told this is one of three places in all of Seattle that we could grow as much as we want to grow. We want to have 7,000 square feet,” reveals Bill Leeds, Capitol Hill resident and co-owner of Seattle’s first legal marijuana grow operation. “It’s because we are not located within 1,000 feet of anything to do with children, and this is a commercial neighborhood. Not only commercial, it’s also industrial.”
Leeds’ motivation to embark on a controversial new business in retirement is related to boredom and a fear of death around the corner, just as the golden years begin, he says. He has seen too many friends retire and then just as quickly, pass away.
“I thought there’d be a little money to be made and I thought it’d be a fun thing to do in retirement,” he revealed. There was no uncertainty of his future success. “You don’t know what the Fed’s are going to do. You don’t know what the state’s going to do. I never had a doubt it was going to work,” he insists.
Fear not, citizens of Magnolia. Leeds isn’t selling to individuals, only to retail stores that are already lining up to buy from him. Leeds says the phone rings 4-5 times a day with requests to provide them merchandise.
“We’re strictly growers and processors,” he emphasizes.
When asked about the reported high taxes placed on the weed, he explains the burden is not on growers. “There’s a lot of taxation, but it’s going to be paid by the retailer and by the consumer. Up to as much as 75%,” he explains.
As for product quality, “I’m not a smoker, but everyone says it’s nothing but good,” he declares.
Would he ever sell to a larger concern? His answer came without hesitation. “If a big company were to walk in and offer to buy us out, we’d be glad to do that if the price was right. We’d just go someplace else and start over again and rebuild,” he said.
Finally, Leeds wants his Magnolia neighbors to know they have nothing to fear from his secluded grow operation. “I just want you to know that you, your family and your children are safe,” he reassured.
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