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8 Questions for the Islander

April 02, 2014 | WES ABNEY

Grower Shango Los on the challenges and perks of growing marijuana on Vashon Island the way its been done for generations.

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#1  What is the Vashon Island Marijuana Entrepreneurs Alliance) 

We are a legal marijuana trade organization on Vashon Island that seeks to create a safe environment for growers and others who want to participate in legal marijuana business on the island.  

#2 Can you describe your role in VIMEA?

As the founder, I was the person who recognized that there were people who wanted to move into the legal marketplace but were feeling concerned about how they would be accepted in the community. So I started a conversation on the island by having a booth at the farmers market, creating events where people could get together and talk about Cannabis business and what they might mean, and then providing small business consulting to licensees who might be starting their first business.

#3 Vashon has a unique climate. What are some of the obstacles that growers must overcome? 

Our biggest obstacle is the short summers, which are very wet and produce a lot of mold. The long-term outdoor growers on the island have been developing their own adaptive practices for generations and they all are looking to maximize on highly abundant plants that are mold-resistant and have a short flowering period.
 
#4 How important is sustainability to the growers of Vashon?
 
I think that because so many of our growers are naturally farmers, you will get a lot of folks who bring the knowledge of the products and the fertilizers that they are making in their compost bin right on over to the marijuana production side.  So they’re dual-using a lot of their organic materials.
    Also, because there are stores all over Vashon, you’ll find that producers will cross-apply technology and adapt what they need accordingly, which nicely supports local businesses and keeps the island truly sustainable.

#5 VIMEA promotes a vertically integrated business model. What other non-Cannabis products do growers here produce?

What we are most excited about is allowing legal marijuana to complement our pre-existing organic crops.  For too long, organic crops have been doing all the  “heavy lifting” themselves to save the family farm and the price margins are just so tight. Now we are able to complement those organic food crops with legal marijuana, so that the marijuana can do the “heavy lifting” and pay the mortgage note and the organic food can be 
what it wants to be and be harvested at the proper time for 
our own best nutrition.  

#6 Any plans for Cannatourism for Vashon Island and VIMEA?

Well, bed and breakfasts here are already self-identifying as being “herb-friendly,” and certainly people have been coming to Vashon to smoke marijuana for generations. 
    That said I think it’s still a little early because our licensees don’t even have their licenses yet.  Any kind of marijuana tourism is still going to be developed and promoted in the future.

#7 Is VIMEA solely interested in only the recreational market or also in the medical and industrial markets?

Well, like most places, marijuana cultivation is just coming out into the light right? VIMEA is about organizing all of those who are in legal marijuana businesses. There is a lot of cross-pollination between the medical marijuana market and the I-502 market and a lot of the same expertise is used in both places.  
     Most of the strains that are enjoyed locally are produced locally so they have unique names that might not be familiar off of the island yet. VIMEA seems to be a natural ally with the recreational, medicinal and industrial markets in helping get these strains to market properly.        
 
#8 How long has marijuana been cultivated on Vashon?

People have been growing on the island for generations.  For over 30 years, international travelers would stop in and sample what we have while they were passing on their way. That’s new news to some folks because the cultivation has been underground for so long. 
     Marijuana is actually our longest-existing cash crop as even strawberries have gone away. Because we’re separated by the ferry, for too long our strains that we have developed for both indoor and outdoor have mostly only been consumed on the island. But now with dispensaries and I-502 recreational storefronts, we’re able to turn all sorts of other people on to what we have done here for so long.  


For more information www.facebook.com/vimea

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