Cannabis and Military Service

Many patrons thank us upon learning that we are a Veteran owned business. Lots of our customers relate their own service to us when they find out, or they tell us how their parents served, or children currently serve. It’s understandable, as we live in a society which, after a temporary setback in the late 60’s and early 70’s, has and continues to have an AMAZING relationship with its Armed Services, which have been completely volunteer-based since 1973. We may not always agree with an individual Administration, but we can largely get behind the sacrifices that the men and women of the US forces make in service to our civil society. Still, 7.6% of the population is an extreme minority, so most Americans have no idea what it is actually like to serve in the military.

My partner, Michael Endicott, and I both served in the armed forces. Three of our employees, (Derek (Tacoma), Shaun (Twisp), and Marty (Tonasket), served as well. While I can’t speak to the specifics of each of their service, I can tell you about mine.

The USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) through a periscope of a US Fast Attack Submarine

I enlisted and served in the United States Navy for nine years and two months, from November of 1996 until March of 2005. I trained at Great Lakes, Illinois, then Damneck, Virginia, on the path to becoming a Data Systems Technician. After completing training, I reported to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, homeported in Bremerton, Washington, until February 2002. During that time, I served as the primary Anti-submarine warfare tech onboard, and the Carl Vinson participated in Operation Desert Fox (strikes on the Saddam Hussein regime) and Operation Enduring Freedom, which quickly became the Global War on Terrorism. I left fairly soon after the carrier had returned to homeport, and attached to Naval Air Weapons Center Point Mugu, California. I did three years of radar and communications repair at a tiny airfield just NW of Malibu, CA. This component of my service was an absolute blast. I spent the time raising my young family, surfing Point Mugu’s break, and finishing my college degree. When I left that facility, I returned to Washington State, bought a house in Tacoma, and attached to the USS Abraham Lincoln in Everett, Washington. Onboard that ship I was primarily responsible for maintaining the SIPRnet (secure, secret internet) uplink from the ship, and maintaining many assets on that network, onboard.

The author, Kevin, at a tactical station in Command and Control

I recognize that as an enlisted person, I had a fairly lavish lifestyle. Due to the classification rating of my equipment, my offices were often secure, and access codes weren’t exactly handed out. For that reason, my coworkers and I generally assembled our own clubhouse complete with TV, game system, kick-ass stereo, and gaming computers. One of the advantages of serving in a capacity of waiting for something to break is a bit of free time. I very much enjoyed watching jets take off and land from the crow’s nest on the O-10 level, 6 decks above the 4 ½ acre flight deck. Despite the fact that I am fairly independently minded, I managed to get by within the rigid framework of discipline and order.

My business partner, Michael Endicott, hangs 10 off a machine gun in the desert. Sometimes you have to take the waves when they come.

Even though we made life onboard as comfortable as possible, we lived for the moments when we pulled into port in exotic cities or foreign countries. In my 4+ years stationed onboard a Naval ship, I visited Hawaii (4x), Singapore (2x), Pattaya Thailand, Hong Kong, Perth (AUS), Hobart (AUS), Dubai (UAE), Jebel Ali (UAE), Bahrain, Sigonella Italy, Rota Spain, and the Azores Islands. Those experiences were truly priceless, and I treasure all the memories and friends.

Prior to joining the military, I had already been a prolific cannabis smoker. I was lucky enough to live on Mercer Island, near Seattle, and we had a pretty amazing, steady supply of BC hydro and Eugene soil grown at the time. My parents, and their honest approach led me to the least harmful adult intoxicant, cannabis. I maintain that an honest approach leads to an understanding that cannabis is for “anytime,” whereas chemicals and booze are for “sometimes.” Cannabis use has been so prolific since Vietnam era, that recruits were coached to say they’ve never tried it or have only tried it once.

The author, Kevin, and Mike Ricker (KISW, NW Leaf), 12 years after “The Call”.

I can’t speak to current policy, but I am willing to bet that the policy has changed little. I didn’t smoke any cannabis during the enlistment. I did smoke some the night I got out of the Navy. My mom scored me a quarter ounce of Seattle’s finest from a friend on Capitol Hill in Seattle, and I picked it up on my way through town. Really, quite bizarrely, I wanted to tell someone that I was going to get high, so I called Ricker back when he was at KISW and told him I was FREE of the Navy! He did graciously take my call and relayed to me that he was a Navy brat hailing originally from Pensacola, Florida (there is a massive Naval Air Base, there). We chatted for a few and then I was home. My ex and I decided to wait until the kids got to bed, then we smoked out of a one hitter (aka a bat) and got suuuuuper fucking high.

True. Even the DEA has admitted it.

During my time in the Navy, I did witness a culture that really steers sailors, soldiers, airmen, and marines to drinking, and it just isn’t a great practice. When I checked in to the Abraham Lincoln, they had literally just finished fishing dead human bodies out of the water after the Banda Aceh tsunami that killed 200,000 people near Christmas, 2004. There was a lot of stress and PTSD onboard from dealing with the event in a humanitarian manner, and for a while the good crew of the Abraham Lincoln was chalking up a DUI per day on the streets and highways of Washington State. The mitigation campaign was in full effect, to be fair, and they had video and stills of car wrecks (gore included) playing on a projector and large screen in the hangar bay, where the crew disembarks down a ladder and gangway, off the ship. I do wish the Armed Forces would choose the safer alternative, because cannabis IS safer than alcohol.

Though my cannabis life and my military life were quite separate in time, I do treasure the experiences in each of them, very much. In the end, I got a paycheck for over nine years, my college degree was paid (part of my grad degree, too), I travelled the world, and put up with a little bit of shit and showed up in an ironed uniform. I wasn’t much for shining my shoes to a high polish. But, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Loup Loup Ski Area and Sitzmark – under celebrated and not crowded.

Ski or snowboard, it doesn’t matter — the season is right around the corner, and Cliff Mass thinks we are going to have a wet and wild winter! Avid borders are getting their Subarus, VWs, and Audis up for multiple trips up the mountain. If you don’t have your own gear, and helicopter, getting to some of the more desirable, dangerous, and exhilarating spots is difficult; go to the touristy, more expensive spots is an arduous journey in crowds, high costs, and long lines at the lifts can really put a damper on the spirit. If only someone put out a guide of a couple awesome spots with no lines and awesome runs, where to stay on the cheap, where to eat, and of course – where to grab some pot.

The Seattle metro area has a habit of going to three places to ski – Crystal Mountain, Snoqualmie Summit, and Mount Baker Ski Area where the prices are steep, and the lift lines can be daunting on those perfect days on the weekend. So, one might wonder how to get a fulfilling and reasonably priced ski adventure in without heading to California, Montana, Colorado, or Wyoming. House of Cannabis has you covered in so many ways. For those of you in our loyal, loving Tacoma crowd, you may never have been to our ‘East of the mountains’ stores. Both are wonderful, fabulous cannabis stores in small towns buoyed by the recreational atmosphere of Okanogan County. There are also at opposite sides of the county, so the landscape and to do list can be varied and wide. For the price of a day at Crystal, Summit, or Baker, you can stay and ski the weekend in Okanogan County. I shall elaborate.

The second store we opened has become House of Cannabis – Twisp, in the Methow Valley. It is the closest store to Lake Chelan, and it is right on the Loup Loup Hwy 20 / Hwy 2 Scenic byway.  Twisp offers several affordable, clean places to stay, including the Sportsman Motel ($, Rustic, Clean), Idle-a-While Motel ($, Cute, Quaint, Private), Twisp Terrace Lodge ($$, Modern, away from town), Twisp River Suites ($$$, Modern, walk the town), and even the uber ritzy Sun Mountain Lodge ($$$$, in Winthrop 8 miles North, mountain bike / horseback / cross country ski paradise). There are many other options as well that a simple google search will reveal – Abby Creek Inn, Mt Gardner Inn, and these AirBNBs. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE SKIING??

From the “Double Z” ski run at Loup Loup Ski Area

Loup Loup. Yeah, it’s a funny name, but it’s what it has. About 10 miles east from Twisp on Highway 20 is the summit of Loup Loup pass. A couple hundred yards after the summit is the turn to the left of the Loup Loup Ski Bowl, which is well marked. The road is well maintained, oft plowed, but you should have an AWD vehicle and/or chains or the appropriate fitting for your vehicle just in case conditions change while on the mountain. Two different lifts and a tow rope introduce you to varying levels of slopes available for your shredding desires. 1,240 vertical feet of skiing starting at the summit at 5,260 feet awaits you, with little to no lift line, and the highest single day pass starting at $55 each. Ski rentals are available in the towns of Winthrop, Twisp, and at the base of the Loup Loup ski bowl, so if you don’t have your own equipment, that’s ok!

Loup Loup Ski Area Trail Map

The ski bowl has several long, enjoyable beginner and intermediate slopes, and many short and medium run expert slopes, with a skill level and ability to work on form with a variety of hill challenges. Loup Loup also has a tubing hill, and 23km of groomed cross country skiing available. Of course, House of Cannabis is there for you, just down in the town of Twisp, for all your cannabis needs during your stay. Check out the pics below for a current view of the mountain from their webcam, the ski map, and a pic of our fabulous store in Twisp. Continue past the pictures to read up on the Sitzmark ski area near House of Cannabis, in Tonasket.

Just 35 miles past Twisp, to the east, is our 3rd store, House of Cannabis – Tonasket. Aside from being an absolute gem inside its’ central location in the town, the interior is amazingly crafted through the vision of our partnership. Like Twisp, there are several great places to stay like the Red Apple Inn ($), Omak Inn ($$), The Junction ($), and many AirBNB and small resort style stays.

A topigraphic trail map of the Sitzmark ski area
Sitzmark trail map

As for the hill, Sitzmark is ideal for families, or those just learning to ski. Base elevation is just over 4300 feet, and the summit is 4950 feet. Sitzmark has two lifts (one of them is decidedly the main, and most trafficked lift) serving the mountain. One of the things I really like about Sitzmark is positioning of the runs, relative to the main lift. The three expert runs are immediately under and to the sides of the main left, while beginners and intermediates after unloading from the chair will ski to the left quite a bit before beginning their runs. Expert skiers can expect to make frequent runs during a day, maximizing on slope time because of quick access at the top to the black diamond slopes, and at the bottom to the queue for the lift. Beginners and Intermediates will enjoy the long runs back to the base down a variety of green or blue rated slopes. Lift rates are a bit more value driven at Sitzmark, compared to Loup Loup, with the basic adult pass clocking in at $45 for a full day pass.

After your day on the hill is done, there are lots of dining options in the Twisp/Winthrop area until about 8-9pm on weekdays, and as late as 11pm on weekends. In Tonasket, there are several options but the town closes down a bit earlier, but for the night owls, Omak is 20 miles to the south, and features great dining into the night, and also has 12 Tribes Casino on the south side of town.

For more information, you can always check out their websites:

Loup Loup Ski Area

Sitzmark Ski Area (not mobile friendly, really… not the worst, either.)

Online ordering - Click this image
Click here for online ordering!
Ski The Loup • Mountain Webcam view from the Top (NOTE: If this view is missing, camera is temporarily offline.)

The current view from the top of Loup Loup

Governor Inslee signs SB5605, paving a path to force expungement of 69,000 cannabis convictions

Governor Jay Inslee signed SB5605 into law at about 4PM on Monday, May 13th 2019, after its passage in April via both the State Senate and House. The Senate did need a further reconciliation passage after the House amended the bill. The bill would require sentencing courts to vacate cannabis possession convictions, assuming that the person was above the age of 21 at the time of arrest. At the time of passage in the house, The News Tribune quoted State Senator and Bill sponsor Joe Nguyen (D-White Center) as saying:

“This proved you can do transformative justice reform issues and it’s a bipartisan thing,” said the bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Joe Nguyen, D-White Center. “Our unjust laws of the past shouldn’t hold you back from being successful in the future.”

(MORE BELOW)

Easy I-5 Access in Tacoma on S 38th St and Pine

This could potentially be a boon to otherwise law abiding citizens who have had to uncomfortably confront this injustice on housing and employment applications, college loan applications, military service, and travel abroad. The Washington State Patrol reports that as many as 68,000 convictions could be expunged, affecting more than 58,000 individuals.

Brad Klippert (R-Kennewick) sought to limit the effect of the bill by sponsoring an amendment that would have given the courts the discretion of vacating the conviction, rather than compelling the court to do so. The amendment failed. However, through the House Appropriations Committee, the bill was further scoped to include verbiage that compelled the same action in all jurisdictions to ensure those charged and prosecuted under local, municipal ordinances were vacated, as well.

The Cannabis Alliance, was instrumental in lobbying the legislative body on this and several other bills during this and the previous sessions. The Cannabis Alliance is an industry group focused on introducing common sense laws and regulations to the industry, that benefit the industry as a whole, as opposed to a selective few.

Of further note, SB5442/HB1095 was passed by both chambers and would allow medical cannabis of certain types and dosages to be administered at public schools in accordance with a physicians instructions. Similarly, HB1401/SB5719 aim to bring Washington State Industrial Hemp laws in line with Federal laws, making it easier for Washington State Industrial Hemp based businesses to compete in the national marketplace was also passed in both houses and await the governor’s signature, on his desk.

My Stoner Parents; Their Honest Approach.

I grew up in a conservative Missouri. My parents were what you would call Midwest hippies. They, and their close group of friends, graduated from high school in the early 1970s, and they certainly did their best to let their freak flags fly. However, it was 1980s Missouri by the time I have a recollection. By then, the stresses of life, jobs, children, and the day to day grind had begun to sink in, I think. Not so idealistically, they pushed forward in their lives, taking some of the carefree freedoms of their youth forward to relive those stressors (cannabis, alcohol, sex, et al). Still, they had to be careful as the draconian drug laws were locking up individuals over personal drug crime, left and right.

Online ordering - Click this image
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I always knew my parents were different. We had a “darkroom” in our basement which was a familiar term to me, as my mother owned her own out-of-the-house photography business. Other kids had a laundry room, playroom, or root cellar. My parents had a rolling tray that I thought resembled a Chinese checkers board (more on the naming of that game, here (it is neither Chinese, nor Checkers. Spoiler alert, America – You were marketed to.), which had hundreds of seeds on it. Other kids had a Chinese Checkers board. My parents asked me to keep kids out of our house when I was in middle school and a teenager, even on hot days in the Kansas City sun. “Bring them iced tea in the driveway,” they said. Other kids had a Nintendo or SEGA and Air Conditioning for their friends.

I knew my parents smoked weed. I also knew that my mom and dad, who rarely drank and even more rarely drank to the “drunk” state, weren’t as violent, fucked up, or “out of it” as the career drinkers some of my friends’ parents were. I knew they smoked weed before I was accidently almost passed a joint by my mom around a campfire, after I sniped a chair that a friend of hers had left open while her attention was diverted to another friend, in the opposite direction. I was aware that there must have been something special about that plant that my mom hacked down near a county highway and threw in the trunk in late summer. Sometimes I could smell that familiar-since-whenever compressed Mexican brick weed on their breath.

At some point (probably of my mother’s choosing), natural conversation started to take place about the substances that adults sometimes used, even if they were against the rules, and what was safe and what wasn’t. She did insist that they were for adults, if at all to be used. She insulated me; made me feel safe by telling me that if I had any questions about any of it, she would be happy to impart what she knew, and help me research what she didn’t, so that I could make an educated decision. She had honest, heartfelt conversation with me about adult choices. She made herself available. She told me she wouldn’t be upset. Throughout my life, I have found this to be true.

There were a lot of things I wasn’t interested in consuming as a teen, alcohol included, but cannabis WAS on the list. I smoked some in the backseat of a 1969 AMC Rambler in Olathe, Kansas, when I was 15, but I didn’t get high (for the record, I absolutely discourage teenage cannabis consumption). I didn’t see much weed in the possession of my friends in my neighborhood of Kansas City, MO, though. Then I moved to Mercer Island, Washington in November of 1993. Not only is the island affluent, but it’s also just a stone’s throw from the U and Capitol Hill (both artist and young-person havens in the timeframe). Drugs do flow onto the island. In March of 1994, a young lady named Michelle, who was a Senior, got me high. She cut assembly on a Tuesday between 3rd and 4th period with me, drove to a scenic island spot in her Honda Accord, and smoked some Seattle chronic with me. I got absolutely wrecked. Nearly non-functionally wrecked. I made it back to school for 4th period, Physics II. A female mid-50s instructor who certainly had been through college a few times in the 60s and 70s was my instructor. She knew I wasn’t my usual perky self and delivered most of her lecture that period from beside my desk. I was feeling a little more real by the end of the period, but she still stopped me as class was dismissed and let me know that she thought I could make better choices during my school day, but that her door was open if I needed to discuss what had happened with no strings attached. Did I mention she is one of my personal favorite teachers? She wasn’t my parent, but she sure functioned as one, here.

It was some time before I smoked pot with a parent. I was home in Seattle from attending college in Missouri in May of 1996, and I had just visited the University Smoke Shop on University Way NE, just N of NE 45th Street in Seattle and bought my first glass bong. I used it with some friends on Mercer Island but returned to my mom’s place where I was staying during my stay. The package is unmistakable. She wanted to smoke some herb. She wasn’t an all-day, every-day sort of girl at this point, so we both got high AF, and ended up coloring pictures for her dad’s refrigerator (he lived in Texas).  This was the first time we smoked weed together. It was the first time she had hit a bong in years. It was a good, slightly unnerving time that has grown very commonplace and natural over the years.

My approach to substances has been moderated by my parents’ openness to discuss them. When those walls are down and the path is paved, you can have real conversations with your loved ones. This applies to not only drugs, but sex, family history, medical issues, and a host of other topics. With open borders between loved ones and friends come honesty and compassion for the struggles of real life. That, in itself, is a natural coping mechanism that circumvents the need and allure for those more dangerous substances.