Earlier this year Northwest Collective owner Joe McConkey found himself at a crossroads.
His medical marijuana business, which was established in Lacey, had been notified by the city that he had to comply with the city’s standards for collective gardens. Although he stood his ground — his business opened before the city adopted its rules — he also secured a new space in the county near Tumwater just in case.
He also wanted to be in good standing with current regulations — the business was within 1,000 feet of a school in Lacey — so he decided to move.
So here he is: Northwest Collective will close its Lacey location at 5840 Pacific Ave. SE at the end of the month and move the entire operation to Kimmie Street near Tumwater.
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But the move comes at a price.
The cost of hiring an attorney to respond to the city of Lacey, and increased competition from other medical marijuana outlets — not to mention being recently robbed — means he will be cutting his staff to 10 from 17.
A lot has changed in the pot business since the beginning of the year and not just for Northwest Collective.
In April, Senate Bill 5052, also known as the Cannabis Patient Protection Act, was signed into law, which “establishes regulations for the formerly unregulated medical marijuana system and aligns it with the existing recreational system,” according to the state Liquor Control Board.
Operating under those guidelines, McConkey plans to offer pot to consumers and medical marijuana patients. He’s not allowed to produce, process and sell himself — something he did before the passage of 5052 — so former members of his team will have to seek separate licenses for those operations, he said.
That’s in line with what is already required for recreational marijuana.
McConkey has secured 5,000 square feet for his new location. Half will be for the retail and medical pot side of the business, while the other half, which is separated by a wall and has a separate address, will be used for processing. Production will take place at an undisclosed location.
“We’re not here for the short term, but the long term,” McConkey said.
He has always believed in the healing qualities of the plant and uses it himself to treat chronic pain, he said.
Before Northwest Collective, McConkey grew pot himself, began delivering it to patients, then realized that medical marijuana needed to be more safe and professional. He knew of patients being robbed and medical pot operations that didn’t have the patient’s best interests in mind, so he took over an existing operation in Lacey and opened the collective.
“This is my calling,” he said.
Northwest Collective has served 4,000 patients to date.
A grand opening celebration for Northwest Collective’s new location is set for June 26.