Marijuana at K2 raises concerns, but makes sense | Editorial

It comes as no surprise that someone has applied for a license to grow marijuana at the K2 building. Aside from the fact that rumors on the topic have been swirling for months, it seems an ideal location for such an operation. The warehouse-like property where K2 once manufactured skis has ample room for both indoor and outdoor growing and is a steal for its size. Vashon is far enough from the city for growing to be a possibility, but close enough to quickly transport product to the mainland and the I-5 corridor. And while state law would require security measures at the operation, a business on Vashon would have far fewer security concerns than one in more urban area.

Initiative 502, which legalized recreational marijuana use last year, had wide support on Vashon. We suspect that few who voted yes, however, considered the prospect of Vashon’s largest commercial property filling with marijuana plants, and some likely won’t be keen about the idea of a large pot farm — indoor or otherwise — located on the main highway and near town. We’re concerned such a business would change the face of our town and perhaps spur crime. However, as chamber director Jim Marsh said, the passage of I-502 created a new industry in the state, one where pot farms could eventually be as common as other types of farms. Several groups have had ideas for the K2 building — primarily for transforming into a multi-use site — but none have taken off. And the building, put on the market during the economic downturn, hasn’t drawn any other manufacturers. While we have mixed feelings about the island becoming known for its marijuana — and we’d certainly rather see K2 hold a community center and a bowling alley — we would like to see something come of the vacant building before it’s too old to restore to use. A large marijuana growing operation could create a multitude of good-paying local jobs and could help support other local businesses as well.

But let’s not jump to conclusions, good or bad. An application is just that: an application. It doesn’t mean the building has been sold or leased, and it doesn’t mean Def Clown West — a company whose name alone has sparked confusion and speculation — will earn the state’s approval for its plan. We know a purchase of the K2 building would be complicated, zoning laws could come into play and a renovation of the giant structure would be costly. Def Clown has applied to have operations at at least two other locations, possibly because it is keeping its options open. Were it to choose Vashon, we hope the company would have the community’s interests in mind, but there’s no guarantee, as it is, after all, a business.

Entrepreneurs are clamoring for a place in the modern-day gold rush that is legal marijuana sales. The reward for growing pot at K2 could be great for those involved, but the path there will be long. Until more happens, we’ll reserve judgement about Def Clown West.


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