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Avitas Agriculture: Tour of a Recreational Marijuana Farm

Avitas Agriculture Marijuana Farm

Less than an hour North of Seattle, in a sleepy little rural town known as Arlington, is the farm and base of operations for recreational marijuana producer Avitas Agriculture. Upon arriving, if you have any doubts whatsoever of the correct address, just step outside and breathe in the air. If you are greeted with a pungent pleasant smell of cannabis, enough to practically knock you off your feet, then you’ve come to the right place.

Avitas is a Tier 2 Producer, which means it’ a medium sized farm, between 2,000 and 10,000 square feet. Most all of their operations are in two warehouse styled buildings, excluding a house which is used as their employee lounge. The smaller building is where everything is trimmed, weighed, packaged, and readied for shipment. The larger building, which is divided into sections, is where the cannabis is grown from seed to adult.

When touring a farm such as Avitas, it becomes obvious that one doesn’t learn how to grow overnight, or over a year for that matter. It is something that is continually learned and crafted over time and enhanced through experience. Try talking with Jason Smit, the chief grower – or the manager Adam Smth – and you’ll be asking for ‘cliff notes’ or beg not to be tested at the end. Simply stated, there is a lot that goes into growing marijuana.

Did you know?

  • Avitas Agriculture resides on roughly 8.5 acres in a picturesque rural location
  • Jason Smit learned how to grow cannabis from ‘High Times’ magazine in his late teenage years and proudly continues to hone his craft
  • Avitas is especially conscious about their branding and naming of cannabis strains. ie., What is usually called ‘Durbin Poison,’ they call: Durbin (minus the Poison part of the name) or what is usually called ‘Girl Scout Cookies,; they call: GSC.
avitas-agriculture-outside-farm

Looking out at surrounding areas.

 

avitas-agriculture-indoors

Inside growing area.

 

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avitas-agriculture-marijuana-plant-close-up

 

avitas-agriculture-cannabis-plant

 

avitas-agriculture-Jason-Smit

Jason Smit, Head of Product (Chief Grower)

 

Adam Smith Avitas Agriculture Marijuana Producer

Adam Smith, Manager

 

marijuana trimmer

Marijuana trimmer

 

avitas-agriculture-jars-of-cannabis

 

avitas-agriculture-packaging-cannabis

Applying labels to marijuana packaging

 

avitas-agriculture-chocolope

 

Adam Smith Avitas Agriculture Marijuana Tier 2 Producer Cherry OG

High Five Interview: James Lathrop, Owner of First Seattle Recreational Marijuana Store: Cannabis City

Jim Lathrop, owner, Cannabis City Seattle, High Five Interview

‘High Five’ is an interview where we choose someone from the local marijuana industry who is deserving of appreciation.

Jim Lathrop, owner, Cannabis City Seattle, High Five Interview

It has been quite the year for James Lathrop, the owner of Cannabis City. He survived the media blitz in the heat of July when his recreational marijuana store became the first one to open in Seattle; managed to fight through early pot shortages due to an industry in its’ infant years, and is looked at and admired as a spokesperson for a segment of an industry still finding it’s way.

We would like to thank this recreational marijuana store owner for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer the following questions. For opening the very first legal weed store in Seattle, we give James Lathrop a ‘High Five.’

1) Predict the Future. Three years from now what does the local Seattle recreational marijuana industry look like and where are we nationally?

NORML. Seriously. Selling, buying, smoking weed will be a normal experience for mainstream society (except for certain repressed areas of the US midwest). Prior to Google, I would have said this would be a 10-30 year trajectory, but with the internet (the “power of the [digital] pen” combined with the “unseen hand of economics”), we will see will 20 years condensed into three, starting…right…now …

2) Go back to the age of 21. Someone tells you that you would open a marijuana shop in Seattle in 2014. How do you react and what do you say?

Whaa?  Well, OK, sure …

3) What is your favorite part about running Cannabis City? What is the most challenging?

Favorite part: talking to people who are buying legal weed for the first time in their life from all over the city, the state, the country, and the world.
Most challenging part:  paying the HEAVY taxes imposed by I-502 and Federal Code 280e. These two laws put the taxation of the product at a compound rate of 85% (25% + 25% + 25% + 10%) at the state level, PLUS an additional 35% at the Federal level.
In Washington it is impossible to make a profit selling legal weed: everything is going to taxes. Year 2014 is “Stay Alive Year” for growers, manufacturers, and retailers. Someday in the future we will make a profit, but for now the State and the Feds are taking everything just like they always have when it comes to weed: remember property forfeiture for growing a plant, a weed? Ha! That was child’s play! Now instead of a one time property forfeiture they are simply taking their forfeiture payments monthly in the guise of “excise taxes” — so really, has anything actually changed? … Fuck man, Dave’s still not here.

4) Who is your role model and why?

I’m going to name one dead and one alive: dead – Carl Sagan, alive – Mark Emery.

I never met Carl Sagan, but like most I loved his COSMOS series as a child, and after opening Cannabis City, I also learned that he was a strong cannabis advocate. He consistently called for an honest, public, intellectual debate over “marijuana” – and he left us before seeing the days of legal weed but I think he would have been proud.

Conversely, I have met Mark Emery, but it has been a while … of course he has been in a US Federal prison in Mississippi for the last 4 years (with a 235 day early release for “good behavior”) — and his story gives me an absolute disgust for the politics of government.

Mark is one of the kindest intellectual souls of our generation and has been persecuted by the US FBI and the Federal Government since the 1990’s. When I met him at a libertarian conference in France in 1999 he had never been to the US. Way back then he told me he was on the FBI’s “Top 10 Most Wanted List” for selling marijuana seeds across the Canadian border into the US. Eleven years later he was extradited out of Canada and charged in a US Federal court in Seattle (Hempfest 2010 – during) and I ponder if the US Feds had not been so obsessed with chasing marijuana seeds in the 1990s, maybe Osama Bin Laden would have been on the 10 ten most wanted list instead of someone like Mark Emery of a Vancouver BC Cannabis Club.

Mark has been to the US once, and only once. For how long is the US going to feel it is OK to yank citizens out of another country for committing a misdemeanor in their own country, and put them in a Mississippi federal prison? I do hope this  drug war will truly end – the American political system is obsessed and in love with war — internationally and at home. But Mark is not a casualty — he is a trooper, a soldier, and a beacon of light and positivity

5) Martian Mean Green, Schnazzleberry, and Trainwreck, are some of our favorite names for strains of cannabis. Here’s your chance! If you could name a strain of cannabis, what would you name it?

Iris — Smoke this and see the world for what it is.

Farm of the Month (November): Avitas Agriculture

Avitas Agriculture Farm of the Month

FOTM-reward

We walked into a recreational marijuana store the other day to check out the selection and to see what new producers have made their way into the industry recently. We walked away that day with a name that we have become quite familiar over the months.

Avitas Agriculture, the producers north of Seattle in the small farming community of Arlington, has set the bar for the industry in terms of overall quality according to the operations manager we spoke to. We didn’t take this praise lightly as the selection of cannabis on hand from competing farms was quite impressive.

This is not the first time we have heard a glowing endorsement of Avitas. Our own marijuana reviewer, Fischer Campbell, had this to write when reviewing a strain of their Plushberry: ‘It’s fair to say that Avitas has yet again hit a home run.’

Since then, we have toured the farm and checked out their base of operations, which has only reinforced what we had already learned. Sometime in the near future we will bring you this coverage. But for now, we award Avitas Agriculture the Farm of the Month for November!

 

Last Month: Check out the ‘Farm of the Month’ for October: Bang’s Cannabis Company.

Guest Post: Cash Only Businesses Create Unwarranted Risk

Cash only business

It’s been an concerning couple of weeks for the cannabis industry from a security point of view here in Washington State state and it’s only going to get worse as we roll into the holidays.

The recent stories in the news about people getting hogtied or pistol whipped to get cash and weed out of them is alarming. These criminal elements are only attracting more crimes and potentially creating copy cats. So how do we fix it? The holidays are here, crimes of opportunity will present themselves with the holiday shopping season. So how do we combat that here in Washington state? And how can we prevent this from happening to other up and coming states with medical and recreational shops to open?

In my opinion, we have to educate the public and change public perception on marijuana and a cash only businesses. The public must know and understand that marijuana is not that hard to get your hands on. Criminals and the black market are selling it everyday. On the black market, it’s cheaper because there is no quality control and there is no tax on it. Anyone with a internet connection can research how to grow and care for a marijuana plant. So the real problem isn’t the plant or the marijuana itself. It’s the cash that surrounds and attracts all these criminal minds. It’s the fact that the government isn’t allowing a reputable tax paying business to keep and store their transactions in a bank.

The longer the government and banks hold out on doing business with marijuana companies, the longer the crimes will continue to occur. Criminals think business owners and their families are taking these huge duffle bags of cash home every night. That’s just stupid. Money and product goes into a huge vault that will take you a godly amount of time to TRY to get thru. By then you have tripped a silent alarm, a secondary regular ADT type of alarms, cops are on their way and your actions have been caught on cameras. Dumb criminals think that by cutting the power, they won’t get caught. They never considered a back up system that keeps recording and sends the data to the cloud.

There has to be a better way to prevent future cannabis crimes where the potential owners of pot shops are covered and do not have to constantly worry about thief’s trying to break into their facility. The recreational 502 and medical owners that are working in this industry must understand the risks and be willing to take certain security measures if they are to survive such brutal tactics.

Warning: Avoid These 3 Areas if You Are Carrying Marijuana in Washington State

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Although cannabis in Washington State is legal for adults, these areas could cause a problem

Did you know, even though you may live in the great state of Washington where marijuana is legal for adults, you can still get in big trouble if you are possessing cannabis? In fact, according to this site, almost 42% of the state is off limits. Why? Because it’s owned by the Federal Government which means federal jurisdiction applies. That’s right, almost half of Washington State.

Here is a short list of places you may want to avoid if you are carrying marijuana.

1. National Park or National Forest 

Much of the land owned by the federal government are National Parks or National forests, and are under federal jurisdiction. Rachel Kurtz, cannabis attorney & consultant, mentioned to us that she ‘knows of folks being prosecuted by the feds for small amounts in national parks in Washington.’ We looked this up and found out that more than 27,000 have been cited for bringing marijuana into the State’s National Parks since 2009! That’s almost half of Olympia!

2. U.S. Military Base

A military base such as Joint Base Lewis-McChord, is one place you don’t want to be carrying around any amounts of cannabis. If for any reason you need to visit the base, a friend in the military, or attend a private party at the Officer’s club, you may want to check your pockets before hand just in case your stash falls out while trying to grab your Identification. A U.S. Military base is federal property and federal prohibitions are in effect.

3. Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

Yes, that neat little museum on 2nd Avenue in downtown Seattle, is technically off limits. It doesn’t look like a National Park but it is. Of course you could walk around with pot in your pockets and most likely wouldn’t need to think twice about it. We just don’t encourage you to reach in your pocket, take out your stash, and show the security guard what you just bought at the local weed shop.

Do you know of any other places in Seattle or Washington State where federal jurisdiction applies?