Pubdate: Sat, 23 Aug 2014
Source: Virgin Islands Daily News, The (VI)
Copyright: 2014 Virgin Islands Daily News
Author: Evan Bush, The Seattle Times
Page: 10


SEATTLE - It might have been Seattle's easiest pot deal, if you don't
take into account FBI background checks, adding every gram into the
state's traceability system or testing for mold and moisture in a
state-licensed lab.

Mark Greenshields and Joby Sewell climbed into a 1997 Toyota Land
Cruiser with a bit more than a pound of marijuana and cruised down
Airport Way, with directions on a manifest provided by the Liquor
Control Board.

Just more than a mile later they arrived at Cannabis City, Seattle's
first - and for now, only - retail pot store. It took all of four minutes.

Inside the store, the pair from AuricAG - one of Seattle's first
state-licensed growers - plopped the cardboard box on a frosted glass

"Two hundred fifty-nine bags counted three times," announced

"And it's going to be counted a fourth," said Cannabis City manager
Amber McGowan, as she gently poured the pot packages on the counter.

Sure enough, there were 259 two-gram bags of West Seattle Kush,
freshly packaged, with gold labels indicating the pot passed state
tests and contains about 15 percent THC, the psychoactive ingredient
that gets you high.

"Is the packaging OK?" Greenshields asked.

Save for a missing sniff jar, all was well, McGowan said. Perfect,

>From the beginning, AuricAG owners said they planned to charge about
$7 per gram. They ended up settling on $7.73 a gram, but a portion of
that will pay for packaging and delivery fees, and the state's 25
percent excise tax.

It was higher than sales manager Sewell initially wanted, but with a
retail markup and sales tax, the two-gram bags cost Cannabis City
customers $42.33 - right around the $40 mark Sewell was gunning for.

McGowan said she's negotiating with another Seattle grower who wants
about $12 a gram.

The AuricAG owners said all along the company wasn't in the
price-gouging business, even with the state-licensed growers in the
market's driver seat because of a demand that greatly exceeds supply.

"Some growers are high-priced and more concerned with their bottom
line than how their product comes out and how it looks to society as a
whole," McGowan said. "At this point in the game, with so little
supply, I have to work with them."

"With AuricAG, their price point is good. We were able to do that
easily," she said.

Sixty-eight days after they flipped the light switch on their
"girls," as grower Steve Elliott calls their marijuana plants, the
AuricAG team finally got paid. Cannabis City cut them a check for $4,002.07.

The store hadn't had marijuana to sell for several days. By the time
it opened early Tuesday afternoon, about 40 people from across the
country and even Canada were waiting in a line that wrapped around the
side of its building, eager to buy one, and only one, package of
AuricAG's pot.

It took just four hours for the store to sell all 259

"I'll celebrate for five seconds and then it's on to the next one,"
said Greenshields, allowing just the hint of a smile to tug at the
corners of his mouth. "I'll feel better when the entire crop is
processed and sold."

Elliott, back at AuricAG's warehouse, estimated the entire initial
crop - which should hit stores around the state by month's end - would
yield about 20 to 30 pounds of bud, fewer than the 50 pounds the
growers initially hoped for "if the marijuana gods smiled" upon them,
as Greenshields often jokes. Still, money was finally flowing in the
right direction.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg," Sewell said.

It's been months since the AuricAG owners have seen paychecks. They
pulled from retirement accounts and sold cars and houses to pool
$150,000 to get the operation started, according to

Money from the West Seattle Kush will pay for this month's rent. Sales
of strains to follow will pay for utility and other bills through October.

"This crop has to get us to the next crop," Greenshields

Still, he said there's a chance they'll all be able to take home small
paychecks by the end of this month. How much depends on the final
weight of the crop, but he said it could be between a single dollar
and $10,000 each.
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