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Pot business pushes forward, goes public
By NATALIE MARTIN
The company that hopes to grow marijuana and make THC-infused edibles in Vashon’s largest commercial building continued to press its campaign last week, part of its ongoing effort to get the land use changes it needs to move forward on its ambitious plans.
Dan Anglin, a spokesman for Bakkhos Holding, held a public meeting last Wednesday, where he described a community-friendly company that would create jobs, be inconspicuous in the former K2 building and contribute to life on the island.
Vashon, he noted, would be an integral part of the company’s success. Should Bakkhos Holding’s plans come to fruition, the company would purchase and renovate the K2 building, enabling it to grow marijuana in 90,000 feet of the structure and manufacture EdiPure-brand marijuana-infused candy and other food in other parts of it.
Ultimately, he said, the company hopes to see its products go nationwide.
“We’d like to be able to brand across the country as marijuana becomes legal,” Anglin said at the public meeting at the Open Space.
Anglin, a public relations professional and a managing partner in EdiPure, has also held meetings with county officials and local groups such as the Vashon Chamber of Commerce. Bakkhos Holding is made up of three investors with ties to the Colorado marijuana industry.
Anglin’s efforts came at the same time as others began to raise questions and concerns about the company’s plans. Members of the Vashon-based Backbone Campaign say they’re concerned about the K2 site’s environmental condition and the possibility that a sale could get K2’s parent company off the hook from undertaking needed cleanup. As of Monday, a petition Backbone launched calling for additional environmental testing at the site had more than 300 signatures from both Vashon residents and off-islanders.
Another group of islanders wrote an open letter to the community printed in this week’s issue, saying they plan to launch a petition drive asking King County to give the island more time to vet proposed amendments to the Vashon Town Plan. Bakkhos can’t move forward with pot production until the town plan is changed, according to county officials. A public meeting to discuss the proposed amendments is scheduled for tonight. (See story, page 1.)
“Some of us are making a simple request to county officials,” the letter reads. “We’re asking that they push the pause button.”
Anglin, however, said islanders should not be concerned about the company’s pending purchase of K2, painting Bakkhos Holding as a responsible business that will even bring benefits to Vashon.
The three owners of Bakkhos Holding, Anglin said, have already been making and selling EdiPure products at medical marijuana dispensaries in the state through the nonprofit Green Cross Washington. EdiPure products have also been distributed widely in Colorado and Arizona.
A website for EdiPure Washington touts how the brand of marijuana edibles has precise THC dosing, something not often found in edibles. A photo gallery of products on the site shows mostly gummy candies with names such as Bubbly Cola Gummies and Orange Slices, as well as a few other products such as cookies and nuts.
Anglin said the company’s owners believe the K2 building, which has sat vacant for years, is ideal to hold their new manufacturing plant. They expect the island will provide a good workforce as well. Bakkhos will hire dozens of locals and pay well, he said, and plans to contribute to the community as well, possibly partnering with local nonprofits.
“We look at this island as a way to become a different kind of marijuana company,” Anglin said at the meeting. “Our intention is to be good neighbors.”
Peppered with questions about Bakkhos’ plans, Anglin described how the K2 building would look very similar from the outside, with no new signage. As required by law, the building would be highly secure, possibly surrounded by a fence, and not open to the public. All products would be shipped to off-island distributors.
“This concept does not include higher foot traffic on Vashon,” he said.
Anglin’s words were often met with applause from much of the crowd of about 100 who attended the meeting. During a time for questions and comments, however, few expressed either support or opposition.
Todd Pearson, one person who commented that he didn’t support Bakkhos’ plans, said after the meeting that he had concerns about a large marijuana business located near Vashon town. He was especially put off, he said, when Anglin said it would be necessary for the company to search their employees daily, ensuring they do not steal product.
“Is that the kind of business we want on Vashon?” he said.
When pushed on specifics of Bakkhos’ plans, Anglin sometimes said those who would know the answer were not at the meeting. One person even suggested a follow-up meeting for the unanswered questions.
When Joe Yarkin, a local farmer, questioned Anglin on how much energy the operation would use, Anglin couldn’t provide specifics but said he believed it would use one-eighth of the power available there.
Yarkin, who also installs solar panels, said he had done his own calculations and believes the operation would use a massive amount of energy.
“That’s a huge environmental impact and extremely expensive,” he said.
When another islander, Leslie Brown, asked why the company’s owners weren’t at the meeting, Anglin said the owners “don’t like speaking in front of people.”
In an interview before the meeting, Anglin also declined to provide contact information for Bakkhos’ owners to The Beachcomber.
Anglin did say that Scott Bergin, listed with the Secretary of State as one of the company’s owners, in 2008 founded both the brand EdiPure and Green Cross Colorado, the first legal marijuana business in the country.
In 2012, Bergin, along with Colorado resident Daniel Griffin and Mercer Island attorney Michael Rosen, started Green Cross Washington, which distributes EdiPure products to medical marijuana dispensaries.
After marijuana was legalized for recreational use in Washington, the same three men founded Bakkhos Holding to move into the new recreational market. In June of last year, Anglin said, Bergin and Griffin moved from Colorado to Washington to meet the residency requirement for new marijuana companies. On the Secretary of State website, Bergin and Rosen are listed with the same Bainbridge Island address.
The men applied with the state last year for marijuana growing and processing licenses at both the K2 building and another building in Woodinville, which Anglin said they still have the opportunity to purchase.
Anglin is a Colorado resident, a registered lobbyist in Colorado and the owner of Anglin Public Affairs. He said he has been with EdiPure since May of last year. On Vashon, he has held meetings with several community groups, including the Chamber of Commerce board and the Vashon Alliance to Reduce Substance Abuse.
“This challenge of public perception happens everywhere,” he said. “Any company that wants to be a national marijuana brand has to do what we’re doing.”
One challenge to Bakkhos has come from the Backbone Campaign.
Last week Backbone’s director, Bill Moyer, began a petition asking that Bakkhos and Jarden, the company that owns K2 and the building, have additional environmental testing done at the site. The petition asks that the companies obtain a statement from the state Department of Ecology (DOE) that the property is clean before any transfer of liability.
On Friday, Moyer also went public with a document that he says calls into question the adequacy of environmental testing that has already been done at the site.
An eight-page memorandum prepared by the Issaquah company Farallon Consulting, which examined environmental assessments of the site prepared by other companies, identifies what it considers to be gaps in testing by the other companies. The report says it expects DOE would require additional testing before it declared that no further action is necessary under the state’s Model Toxics Control Act.
“I think it affirms what the rumors have been saying that there are many unanswered questions about environmental conditions at the K2 site that need to be addressed, and this is the moment to address them,” Moyer said.
Anglin, who has insisted that proper environmental testing has been performed and that Bakkhos is not releasing Jarden of any liability, said he questioned the legitimacy of the report. He said he believes Farallon has a connection to someone who attempted to purchase K2 in the past.
Moyer said the Backbone Campaign purchased the document from Farallon after he investigated rumors he’d heard, but he declined to say whether a potential purchaser was involved.
Water District 19, which has a well near the K2 building, is also looking into the situation.
Last week, commissioner Jenny Bell said Moyer shared his concerns with the district’s board and the board has inquired with DOE for more information about the site.
“We need more information, and we’ll see what they provide,” Bell said. “The proper course is for us to talk to the Department of Ecology.”
Bakkhos Holding faces several obstacles before it can begin operations at the K2 building. Should the county amend the Vashon Town Plan to allow marijuana business at the building, Bakkhos must also get the building rezoned from Community Business to Industrial, Anglin said. The company is also awaiting licenses from the state Liquor Control Board and must obtain a Conditional Use Permit from King County before.
The county council will vote on the town plan amendment as soon as late march. Anglin said that if the council approves the amendment, Bakkhos plans to close on the building’s sale soon after.