Business partners Mark Brewer and Keith ‘Beard’ Sisk opened Collective Product Development LLC, a medical marijuana collective garden cooperative in Grayland, on May 12. Sisk, along with partner Chris Ricketts, also owns and operates Blue Eyes Collective in Central Park, east of Aberdeen.
This is not a recreational marijuana store. People can’t just walk in off the street and purchase marijuana. It also is not a growing operation. According to Brewer, “The purpose of the cooperative is to provide a safe and legal environment for legally registered cooperative members to receive safe, specific marijuana-based medications for an array of conditions. We purchase our products only from reputable suppliers for distribution to our members.”
Brewer and Sisk say that membership in the South Beach cooperative is growing rapidly, with more than 100 qualifying individuals donating cash in exchange for cannabis in various forms. The donations are earmarked to pay for purchase of product and to maintain distribution point operations.
Variety of forms available
The cannabis available at Collective Product Cooperative comes in a variety of processed forms, including flowers (dry medication), medibles (edibles containing marijuana), tinctures, oils, topicals, and other extracts to offer a variety of treatment options. Some work well for some — others work well for others. The current cost averages $10 per gram, or $250 per ounce.
State law mandates that no individual may receive more than a 60-day supply, which also cannot exceed 24-ounces. The actual amount allowed is based on authorization documentation on file for each individual at the co-op.
There are no flashy signs advertising the availability of medical marijuana on the collective building located at 1628A SR105, property owned by and leased from Keith Thurman. The building has served in the past as a real estate office, beauty shop, gift and décor store and more.
Instead, the blinds are drawn and a simple green cross – an internationally recognized symbol for the availability for medical marijuana — adorns the door along with a listing of open hours.
“We don’t want to be intrusive on our community and our neighbors. We just want to quietly offer a product that is needed by our members,” said Brewer by way of explaining the operation’s intentional low-key presence.
Medical benefits established
According to RCW69.51A.005: “There is medical evidence that some patients with terminal or debilitating medical conditions may, under their health care professional’s care, benefit from the medical use of cannabis. Some of the conditions for which cannabis appears to be beneficial include, but are not limited to:
Nausea, vomiting, and cachexia associated with cancer, HIV-positive status, AIDS, hepatitis C, anorexia, and their treatments; severe muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and other seizure and spasticity disorders; acute or chronic glaucoma; Crohn’s disease; and some forms of intractable pain.
In that same section, the RCW states: “Humanitarian compassion necessitates that the decision to use cannabis by patients with terminal or debilitating medical conditions is a personal, individual decision, based upon their health care professional’s professional medical judgment and discretion.”
Parts (a), (b) and (c) of that same section state, in part, that the legislature intends that qualifying patients with terminal or debilitating medical conditions who, in the judgment of their health care professionals, may benefit from the medical use of cannabis, along with designated providers to such patients as well as health care professionals who offer proper authorization of medical use of cannabis by qualifying patients, shall not be arrested, prosecuted, or subject to other criminal sanctions or civil consequences under state law based solely on their medical use of cannabis, notwithstanding any other provision of law.
Cooperatives state regulated
Understanding and navigating state regulations of the medical marijuana business can be difficult. Collective garden cooperatives are not regulated by Initiative 502, passed by voters in 2012 to establish legal guidelines for operating recreational marijuana sales businesses.
Sisk, Brewer and their counterparts operate their medical marijuana co-ops within the boundaries of a law created in 1998, which has been amended several times by the State Legislature.
The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 69.51A covers medical cannabis (formerly ‘medical marijuana’). At the state level, operations like the one in Grayland are not classified as businesses. Individuals who use medical marijuana may create a co-operative, where dozens of medical marijuana patients can band together as a unit.
By law, only Washington State residents are allowed to participate in cooperative located in the state, and legal proof of state residency, such as a driver’s license, is required as a part of the collective membership registration process.
The medical marijuana obtained from a co-op may not be transported outside of the state, nor shared, sold, bartered, traded, exchanged or delivered by any other means to any unauthorized person. To do so, violates not only state, but also federal law.
Qualifying for membership
Those donating cash in exchange for marijuana at a collective garden cooperative like the one in Grayland, must abide by strict membership rules legislated by the state for access to product.
A prospective “patient” wishing to donate cash for medical marijuana at a co-op must have a medical marijuana authorization. By state law, medical doctors, physician assistants and some registered nurses can legally provide such authorizations, and must do so on state-printed paper specifically designed for that purpose.
Before being allowed to receive marijuana as a collective member, a participant must produce a copy of a statement signed by his/her health care professional that shows, according to RCW 69.51A.010, “Documentation of Medical Authorization to Possess Marijuana for Medical Purposes in Washington State.” Authorization documents all contain expiration dates, none of which are good for more than one year at a time.
With that health care professional authorization in hand, the individual must then apply to be a member of the cooperative. If accepted, a patient may receive medical marijuana in smokable or edible form in exchange for a monetary donation to the collective.
The original medical marijuana authorization statement must be carried by the patient when obtaining marijuana at the co-op, and he/she is required by law not to open the sealed packet of received items until reaching his/her final destination. Those operating cooperatives do a computer check of each patient’s registration number to verify that his/her authorization for medical marijuana use is still in effect.
Still against federal law
Even though Washington state voters have approved the use of medicinal marijuana, federal law still prohibits its production, sale and/or use.
Collective Product Development LLC is open seven days a week, Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:20 p.m.
Editor’s Note: A second medical marijuana collective garden cooperative also opened in mid-May in rural Westport near Hammond’s RV Park on S. Montesano Street. While that business also was slated for coverage in this article, despite repeated requests for evidence of a State Business License and a State Reseller’s Permit, owner/operator Staci Bridgeman either was unable or unwilling to produce such documentation. The business, called Ocean Breeze Alternative Care Collective, abruptly closed its doors in early July. Prior to opening her co-op, Bridgeman was the long-time manager of her parent’s business, Ted’s Red Apple/Westport Market, which closed June 9.