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Company applies to grow pot at K2

By NATALIE MARTIN

If an off-island company’s plans pan out, the K2 building could one day hold a large marijuana growing operation.

According to information released last week by the state Liquor Control Board, Def Clown West, a company registered to a Redmond man, has applied for a license to produce marijuana at the vacant, 180,000-square-foot building on Vashon Highway. Another company has applied to grow marijuana on Wax Orchard Road. The application period closes Dec. 19.

Def Clown West, a limited liability company (LLC) registered to Dirk Christian, applied for a Marijuana Producer Tier 3 license at the K2 building, meaning the operation would be 10,000 to 30,000 square feet.

Christian, reached by The Beachcomber, confirmed that he applied for the license, but declined to say anything about his plans or whether a sale or lease of the K2 property was pending.

“It’s early in the process. We’re still in the try and see phase of this,” he said. “I don’t have anything I can share with you other than yes, we’re interested in locating our business there at that location.”

According to his LinkedIn account, Christian graduated from the University of Washington in 1992 with a degree in international business and is currently an internet marketing and e-commerce manager for a company that sells products for log homes.

Christian is also the listed agent for two other Def Clown LLCs that have applied for marijuana licenses in other locations. Def Clown applied for a license to process marijuana at an address on Camano Island, and Def Clown South applied to grow pot at an address in Roy, a small town in southwest Pierce County. Both addresses appear to be the locations of residential properties.

The vacant K2 building, which sits on 18 acres, has been on the market for several years and was once listed at $1.5 million.

Representatives with Cushman & Wakefield, the commercial real estate broker selling the building, did not return phone calls from The Beachcomber. In August, company representatives confirmed there was activity around the building’s sale but declined to provide further details. At the time, a representative said he believed an announcement about the property would come soon, but then later said there was no news to report. Since then, the company has remained quiet and has declined to provide details in response to additional inquiries.

Brian Smith, a spokesman for the Liquor Control Board, said that an application for the K2 building doesn’t necessarily mean the building has been sold. As with liquor licenses, he said, some companies apply for marijuana licenses based on contingent leases, and it’s possible one could apply with a contingent sale.

The Liquor Control Board will investigate each application before deciding who is granted licenses, a process that will include interviews, criminal background checks and examinations of the applicants’ operating plans. Ultimately, applicants will have to “demonstrate to the licensing authority you have a right to that building,” Smith said.

“You don’t have to have a lease signed,” he said.

A Burien man has also applied for a license to grow marijuana on Vashon. Red Tractor Enterprises, a company registered to Richard Doane, who also owns Burien Auto Repair, applied for licenses to both produce and process — or dry and package — marijuana on a property on the 25900 block of Wax Orchard Road.

Doane also declined to give details on his plans, but said his family owns the property — a 60-acre forested swath near Wolftown — and he is waiting to see if his application will be approved.

“It’s still up in the air,” he said. “You’re not guaranteed anything.”

The window to apply for a license to grow, process or sell marijuana in the state opened Nov. 18 and will close Dec. 19. So far, no one has applied for a license to open a retail marijuana shop on the island. The state Liquor Control Board plans to release updated information on applicants each Tuesday.

While no Vashon residents have applied to start marijuana businesses on the island so far, islanders continue to organize around legal marijuana use and sales, and those involved say they expect some islanders will put in applications by the deadline.

Earlier this fall, islander Shango Los created the Vashon Island Marijuana Entrepreneurs Alliance (VIMEA), a group Los says will help market locally grown marijuana and help those interested in marijuana business navigate the new system, network with one another and share resources. VIMEA has already hosted two well-attended meetings as well as a mixer.

New on the scene is Vashon CannaCulture, a group recently formed by islander Joshua Taylor. Taylor, who has lived on Vashon on and off since he was young and currently works as an electrician, said he and a couple other islanders plan to offer consulting to new marijuana business on the island. The group has access to individuals who are knowledgeable and experienced in different aspects of marijuana growing and production, Taylor said, and they could one day use their connections to help staff island businesses as well.

“I want to help support people who are growing marijuana actively with staff and expertise,” Taylor said.

The group is already consulting for one island couple that plans to apply for a marijuana production license, and it plans to bring a trade show of marijuana products to the island sometime next year. Taylor said he’s not yet sure if Vashon CannaCulture will ultimately be a business or a nonprofit organization.

“As with this whole industry, I’m trying to find my place within it,” he said. “I already have a lifestyle and a way of making money. I’m putting my personal life on the line for this because I believe in marijuana as the cultural drug of choice.”

Taylor said he hoped Vashon CannaCulture would also be what he called a cultural impact group, working to quell the stigma and stereotypes associated with marijuana use. To that end, the group plans to hold several marijuana socials on Vashon. The first one, a harvest celebration this month billed as a bring your own cannabis event, has already drawn so much interest that Taylor has stopped promoting it. More are planned for next year, he said.

“We want to integrate the use of recreational marijuana into normal society because it is part of normal society,” Taylor said. “It is not a fringe drug, and it’s not unusual for people to smoke marijuana. It’s unusual for them to do it together because we haven’t been allowed to.”

While Los, with VIMEA, has worked to promote the idea that it would be best for Vashon if islanders ran local marijuana businesses, he said last week he would also be open to working with off-islanders such as the ones apparently behind the applications for the K2 building and the Wax Orchard Road location.

Los said he also knows of Vashon residents who are currently preparing their marijuana license applications.

“We hope that most of the applications for Vashon are from business groups involving islanders,” he said.

As for K2, Los said, he believes the potential development, if not run by islanders, could still be a boon for the Vashon economy.

“Getting that building occupied, creating jobs and feeding our local economy could be a win for all if done with respect for the island’s needs, too,” he said.

Jim Marsh, director of the Vashon-Maury Island Chamber of Commerce, echoed Los. While he expected islanders would have mixed feelings about marijuana at the K2 building, Marsh said legal marijuana business on the island is inevitable and a large operation at K2 could create local jobs.

“If it’s possible for (the building) to be reclaimed as a productive part of the island, then great,” he said. “We’re all very, very curious to know what their vision is, and we hope they will be in dialogue with the community as they move forward.”

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