A smiling bouncer in a black skull and crossbones sweatshirt stood guard Sunday outside the door to a rented room where marijuana wafted through the air and reggae music pulsated.
But only those with medical marijuana authorization forms gained entrance to an event billed as the state’s first cannabis farmers market.
“These are farmers growing agricultural medicine, so it seemed like a no-brainer,” said Jeremy Miller, organizer and owner of Sacred Plant Medicine. “It’s a place where people can network with other patients in similar situations.”
Miller brought in just six vendors for the “dry run,” unsure of how many people would attend the event on South Tacoma Way. Its success means he may be able to make it a monthly affair from here on out.
It was held at the Conquering Lion, a gathering place and music venue expected to open soon.
The walls and floor were painted black. Two banners for Sacred Heart Medicine were draped on the wall. A table with brochures and stacks of the magazine “West Coast Cannabis” welcomed visitors.
Vendors preferred different terms – farmers, caregivers, providers. Half declined to give their names, but were happy to explain their products and how they could help people with various aches and pains.
A steady stream of patients filtered in and out, spending time at each booth before deciding which marijuana products appealed most. Some stayed for hours, socializing with friends or sharing a joint.
“Something like this lets people come get what they need in a safe environment,” said Justin Kravis, whose Kravi Crops booth attracted many.
His offerings were plentiful. He had about 6 ounces of different marijuana strains marked in clear jars. There was White Widow and Pandora’s Box and Moonwreck.
Next to a scale and plastic baggies were brownies, Rice Krispies treats and chocolate chip cookies. Two hours after the market opened, he had only two $20 clone plants left. (A clone plant is a way to reproduce the same strain of marijuana.)
It is illegal to sell marijuana, and state-authorized providers are allowed to grow cannabis for only one patient at a time. That’s why the farmers donated their products to the patients and patients in turn donated money to the farmers.
“For those few minutes, (the farmer is) that one person’s caregiver,” explained one man who declined to give his name.
On the opposite side of the room, Kathy Parkins had set up her “Cannaceuticals” booth and was busy educating patients about the effects of eating marijuana rather than smoking it.
She offered snickerdoodles, chocolate fudge, triple chocolate cake, and fish and oyster stew mix for $5. Her hashish lollipops quickly sold out, but there were plenty of spiced tea bags and canisters of marijuana lotion.
“This is a central location for all people who have cannabis products but don’t have a store front,” said Parkins, 54.
She said she has been cooking for medical marijuana patients for nine years, is working on a cookbook and even gives talks at cancer institutions.
Although everyone seemed to relish the mellow vibe inside the market, at least one vendor admitted that he had been nervous bringing in his products.
“I was kind of paranoid coming down here,” said Greg, who offered a smile but no last name. “You’ve gotta worry. It’s still marijuana.”
Many of the patients there to shop appeared to be in their 20s. But several others said they were in their 50s or 60s. Some used canes to walk, and at least one man came in a wheelchair.
Ric Smith said he began using medical marijuana after first being diagnosed with HIV. In addition, he uses pot to treat leukemia, kidney failure and help with a recent stroke.
He’s fond of saying, “Munchies save lives.” Marijuana “helped me to eat,” Smith said. “With all the operations and procedures and side effects, I had no appetite. Munchies saved my life.”