November 18, 2013

New pot-related businesses sprout in Washington

From farmers to bakers to retailers, modern-day prospectors, some of whom eschew the drug, nevertheless seek a fortune in legal marijuana.

By Gene Johnson
The Associated Press

SEATTLE – Dot-bong, Marijuana Inc., the Green Rush: Call it what you will, the burgeoning legal marijuana industry in Washington state is drawing pot prospectors of all stripes.

click image to enlarge

Bruce King holds a 3-week-old piglet on his farm in Arlington, Wash. He considers pot to be a crop, like any other. King, 50, doesn’t like pot himself, but says, “If people are going to eat a stupid drug, they should eat my stupid drug.”

The Associated Press

click image to enlarge

This combination of November 2013 photos in Washington state shows, top row from left, pastry chef Marla Molly Poiset, security guard Steve Smith and businesswoman Angel Swanson. In the middle row from left are, businessman Daniel Curylo, couple Bilye Miller and her partner Todd Spaits, and farmer Bruce King. In the bottom row from left are, store manager Yevgeniy “Eugene” Frid, businesswoman Cecilia Sivertson and marijuana grower Paul Schrag.

The Associated Press

Microsoft veterans and farmers, real estate agents and pastry chefs, former journalists and longtime pot growers alike are seeking new challenges – and fortunes – in the production, processing and sale of a drug that’s been illegal for generations.

In Colorado, the only other state to legalize marijuana, existing medical marijuana dispensaries can begin selling for recreational use in January. But in Washington, where sales are expected to begin in late spring, the industry is open to nearly anyone – provided they’ve lived in the state for three months, pass a background check and raise any money from within the state. Washington on Monday begins accepting applications from those eager to jump in.

Click through the portraits, or read through the profiles, of those hoping to make their mark in the new world of legal weed.

THE PIG FARMER

Bruce King says he was a 22-year-old high-school dropout when Microsoft hired him as its 80th employee in 1986. A software engineer, he eventually left and started or acquired two other companies – telephone adult chat and psychic hotlines – but he really wanted to farm.

He found a management team to handle his business and started breeding pigs north of Seattle. After Washington legalized marijuana last fall, he looked at pot as any other crop. The potential margins were “fabulously attractive,” he says. He found a farm with a 25,000-square-foot barn for a marijuana operation.

King, 50, doesn’t like pot himself, but says, “If people are going to eat a stupid drug, they should eat my stupid drug.” He likens it to running a psychic hotline when he’s never had a reading. “You don’t have to like Brussels sprouts to grow them.”

POT & PATISSERIES

Marla Molly Poiset had swapped her three-decade-old home-furnishing store and interior design business in Colorado for a life of world travel when she learned some devastating news: Her eldest daughter had leukemia.

She suspended her travels to help her daughter and her family through the ordeal. She then continued her tour, attending cooking school in Paris. Poiset, 59, graduated last spring, and had an idea: “Blending my newfound patisserie skills with medical cannabis,” she says.

So she abandoned Paris for Seattle, where she’s been developing recipes for marijuana-infused chocolate truffles for recreational and medical use. Her aim is to create “a beautiful package” like French chocolate or pastries for people like her daughter.

They could “ingest discreetly and enjoy life, rather than everything being in a pill,” she says.

420-NINER

If legal pot is the Green Rush, Daniel Curylo has some unique credentials: He’s been an actual prospector.

He helped put himself through college working for a company that flew him into northern British Columbia and the Yukon with a map, a compass and a heavy backpack. He’d pan for gold and take soil samples. Another source of income in those days? Growing and selling marijuana with a few other political science majors.

A former techie and ex-house flipper, Curylo, 41, says his background in “business development and taking risks” is perfect for the legal pot world.

He has invested $400,000 so far. His goal? A cannabis business park northwest of Olympia that would feature his growing operation, Cascade Crops, as well as retail stores run by his mother, father and aunt.

‘THE POSTER CHILD FOR ANTI-CANNABIS’

Angel Swanson was raised on the South Side of Chicago by a mother who warned: “If you see drugs, run.”

(Continued on page 2)

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)