After the landslide victory for legal pot last November, opponents of Initiative 502—led by a handful of vocal medical-cannabis industry insiders—toned down their fiery rhetoric. Even Hempfest, which last year had the dubious honor of being the largest antilegalization rally in the world, has dubbed this the year of healing within the movement.
So it surprised me to see protests against cannabis dispensaries that are run by people who supported legalization, such as the Northwest Patient Resource Center (NWPRC), which is co-owned by John Davis.
"I'm protesting John Davis because I think he is bringing Mexican cartels into it," claimed Kirk Ludden, a pot patient and sponsor of Initiative 586, the so-called cannabis patient protection act, which would clarify legal definitions for medical marijuana.
When Ludden led a protest outside NWPRC's downtown location, co-owners Jake Dimmock and Daniela Bernhard met with the protesters for half an hour before—seriously—buying Ludden a sandwich at the corner deli. Ludden, satisfied that the dispensary was "for the patients," canceled a follow-up protest at NWPRC's West Seattle location. (There is zero indication NWPRC or Davis would have any affiliation with cartels, as Ludden suggests.)
But Ludden won't quit.
Based on information being disseminated by dispensary owner Steve Sarich, Ludden is planning a protest for July 20 at the Green Buddha Patient Co-op, run by I-502 supporter Muraco Kyashna-Tocha. Her offense: telling the liquor board in an e-mail that "the successful implementation of I-502 will require shutting down the illicit market that is medical cannabis."
Kyashna-Tocha has said the same thing publicly.
As further evidence of uninformed infighting, some I-502 supporters have seized on the protest. George Boyadjian, owner of Washington Cannabis Institute, which teaches businesses how to comply with I-502, posted in support of the protest on Facebook. When asked why, Boyadjian told me, "In order for I-502 to fully work, we have to minimize the number of medical dispensaries." When informed that Kyashna-Tocha actually agrees with him, Boyadjian said, bizarrely, "People like her need to go away."
Kyashna-Tocha stands by her statement and happily includes herself among the gray-market pot purveyors who will be put out of business by I-502. "I shall need a job next year," she said. "Maybe I can start a deli for, what's his name, Kirk?"