Local News

New industry booming with pot prohibition's end

SPOKANE, Wash. - Pot prohibition end means big business

People who want to grow or sell marijuana in Washington will turn in applications to the state next month, and the development of this new industry is attracting entrepreneurs from across the country.

Marijuana: Approve or disapprove, either way the plant has laid down roots here in Washington and people are getting ready for the harvest..

"It literally is the building of an industry and I don't think you see that twice in a lifetime," said Hilary Bricken with the law office of Harris and Moure in Seattle.

The firm specializes in cannabis law, specifically in helping potential business owners set up their business and apply for a growing or selling license. They started a group geared to help entrepreneurs set up a marijuana business and so far 50 clients have already applied.

"The reason why you come and see the attorney is to do things like set up your operating agreements and your shareholders agreement which can be very complicated," Bricken said.

Spokane has the potential to see eight recreational stores. Alex with Amerfarms wants to supply those stores and hired Bricken to help procure grower and processor licenses.

"We talk to them every day and just guiding us through that process has been very helpful," said Alex.

Applicants must be Washington residents for at least 90 days and growers and processors aren't allowed to retail the plant, but that hasn't stopped national interest.

"I had someone come from the East Coast that once ran a very profitable waste management company," said Bricken.

Amerifarms is looking for a Tier III license allowing for up to 30,000 square feet of grow space. Not something for the backyard gardener.

"We have two, third generation farmers who are also ranchers, so they know exactly what is going on as far as running large scale agricultural operations. We have a house accountant," said Alex.

The prospect of new business is already attracting other businesses.

"A good amount of insurance companies approaching us, wanting to insure us, providing traditional crop insurance, insurance for our structures, employee benefits, general liability," said Alex.

However there are still hurdles.

"The biggest challenge is that everyone in this industry is going to be facing is the challenges with banks," said Alex.

Why banks? One local credit union said they can't handle any business related to marijuana because federally the drug is illegal and most banks are federally insured. It's just one more growing pain of a blooming business.

"We're on the cutting edge of the end of prohibition, I mean, I think we are the most progressive cannabis state in the union," Bricken said.