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Who is growing Washington’s weed?

Tahoma Growers are hoping to pass their August inspection, and they share what the process has been like and what it's like to participate in this historic Green Rush. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

It is now legal to buy cannabis from a pot shop, but the stores sold out of weed right away and haven’t had anything to sell since. That’s because growers are still waiting to pass state inspections. Including Tacoma’s Michael Ross who is president of Tahoma Growers, a budding marijuana growing business. Michael says he smokes everyday but he’s never grown pot before.

“By day, I’m an accountant. Been an accountant for ten plus years so that’s kind of a reason for getting out of it, right? You know, I’d rather count plants as opposed to numbers.”

But because someone needs to know how to grow, he’s assembled his dream team.

“I am more sales and marketing,” says Shelby Talmadge. “We have Tony who has 20 plus years of growing experience. My sister is the CFO, so, financial. We also have Josh who is our Chief of Engineering. He can build anything you put in front of him.”

Shelby says Tahoma Growers will be inspected on August 15, and if they pass, they will be allowed to legally grow and supply marijuana to state run pot shops. Last year, Michael bought some land in Goldendale, WA, applied for a license to grow on the very last day possible and has been working on getting everything ready for the inspection, which means investing tens of thousands of dollars, in the hopes that he’ll pass.

“Specifically it’s a lot of cameras,” Michael says. “They definitely want to keep an eye on the inventory. That was the biggest issue with the permitting process, was making sure there are enough cameras to cover all the blind spots. They really want to do this right, I think.”

The cameras must store footage for 45 days, so the growers are completely monitored.

“They have every plant with it’s special barcode,” Shelby says. “They track it from beginning to end. They know exactly where each plant is going so it’s very scientific. Essentially, they’ll know your entire inventory from day one. How many seeds you have, how many plants you have, everything.”

The government doesn’t demand it, but Shelby says Tahoma Growers are 100 percent focused on growing green, in more ways than one.

“Some farms haven’t been conscious about the environment and they use these pesticides that are very harmful. It’s crazy, some of the things they’ve been using. Being ahead of the curve, we’re going to go completely eco-friendly. We’re going to use GenHydro products where they have a whole organic line. We like to support small, local businesses. But our whole vision is to really help other farms that are going to do the same, and keep Washington green and keep it beautiful.”

Besides the fact that it’s unhealthy to smoke pesticides, Shelby says animals have been affected on some California farms.

“There was a rodent in the area that was eating the smaller rats that were eating the pesticides and it’s actually now on the endangered list. To put an animal on the endangered list from farming? That just seems a little backwards.”

The whole team is learning as they go, just like everyone else participating in what’s been called the wild west of weed. And Michael still can’t believe he’s really doing this and that it’s legal and completely transparent.

“It’s mind boggling for me to think I’m talking to people at work about this and I’m sitting here on the radio telling people that I smoke. That’s how it should be. We shouldn’t have to hide things that what we enjoy.”

Well, sometimes. Sometimes hiding what you enjoy is best.

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