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Medical Marijuana Farmer's Market Opens Near Black Diamond

MMJ Universe is open every weekend but access to the property is strictly limited to those with proper paperwork and identification.

Amidst the sparsely populated hillsides of unincorporated King County, a new medical cannabis farmer's market has opened between Black Diamond and Enumclaw.

Deidre Finley is the owner of MMJ Universe, an airy and rustic setting just off of State Route 169 where during market weekends, live music plays amidst a green house area and garden and gift center where patients can find the cannabis products they need.

It's a different setting for a medical marijuana farmer's market than most in the Seattle area are used to, she said. The country atmosphere presents a safe and soothing place of refuge for patients. It's a huge contrast to the other farmer's markets in the area in White Center, downtown Tacoma and Yelm.

Product of Soul-Searching

MMJ Universe sits on Finley's 11-acre property that she's owned for the last 13 years. When she first purchased the land, a nursery was already on site for her to pursue a business in ornamental horticulture.

Finley had no intention at the time to go into the medical marijuana business, but as the economy turned and people stopped prioritizing landscaping for more pressing financial needs, she experimented with several ways to stay afloat herself, including establishing an assisted living business, a doggy day care and even just renting the facility out. Nothing work out. "I certainly had a few years of soul-searching," she said. "But this is my home. I love it here and I wanted to stay here."

Medical cannabis was a plan B, she said. Finley said she learned all she could about the industry, consulted legal experts and volunteered to stand at vendor booths at other farmer's markets in the Seattle area to understand its dynamics.

When the Drug Enforcement Administration in August sought to shut down 23 Western Washington medical marijuana businesses because of their proximities to schools and/or park zones, Finley sprung to action to approach several of them and get MMJ Universe open, which it did at the end of September. This is 'a home to the homeless,' she said of the vendors she's picked to man her farmer's market.

The Right Reasons

The Kind Alternative Medical Collective in Preston was on that list of DEA-shuttered businesses and also one that Finley invited to operate on her property.

Finley was picky about her vendors - she had to be given the uncertain political atmosphere concerning medical marijuana in Washington state. Kind Alternative owner Jocelyn admits there are certain businesses within the medical marijuana industry where it's clear the owner is in it to make money; the quality of products can be questionable; all of that opens up vulnerabilities for the business owner especially where state and federal laws collide.

For Jocelyn, it was about helping people. Though the DEA's warning letter she received in August gave owners 30 days to close down, staff shut down early because they wanted to protect their patients in case agents seized their private information ahead of the closure date.

Having worked in the medical field for 20 years, Jocelyn said she continues her work at Kind Alternative because it represents better treatment of patients than in a traditional medical setting. Jocelyn said her mother, who had cancer but was later in remission, ultimately died of multiple organ failure because of the pharmaceutical drugs she had been taking.

Medical marijuana is healthier and safer than these drugs, she said.

Jocelyn said she's seen patients with marked improvements after suffering from Tourette's syndrome or recurring seizures. "It's just worth it to see people who were barely able to come in, then be able to walk upright," she said.

Working Without Much Regulation

Jocelyn acknowledges one of the side effects of the legal limbo is the lack of regulation in terms of how medical marijuana is produced. However, Kind Alternative's plants are safe and grown organically and then tested for purity, she said.

One of the testers is also a vendor at MMJ Universe, Finley said.

Likewise, Kind Alternative asks its patients to follow a strict set of guidelines and sign forms indicating they understand what they can and cannot do with their medical marijuana products. Those who don't take the care and caution to do so are no longer served, she said.

Finley said she has not been shy about promoting MMJ Universe in relevant circles and to share her new business with her neighbors.

Those who have spoken to her have been supportive, she said, and she assumes those who aren't have not approached her. Either way, Finley wants to stay open about what she's doing as she's meticulously making sure that every detail of MMJ Universe's operations abides by state laws.

This means regulating who gets to be on her property on days the farmer's market is open. Only patients with a Washington state recommendation and ID are able to enter. No one is charged for a given product though donations are suggested to compensate for production costs rather than for the products themselves.

While the vendors transport and maintain all their own respective products during market days, nothing stays on site on off-days, she said. (Editor's Note: Patch was able to tour the facility on such an off-day. Finley said we would not be allowed on the premises on an actual farmer's market day unless we had the proper paperwork.)

Helping People, Helping Community

Jocelyn emphasized that while preconceived notions of a medical marijuana business are understandable, the reality of a collective like Kind Alternative that follows strict operational guidelines is that it doesn't attract criminal elements. (see this story in the Snoqualmie Valley Record)

In fact, Jocelyn said staff formed a Relay for Life group last summer and was able to raise $10,000 for the American Cancer Society. They also continue to donate to the local food bank. (read more in this February 2012 issue of Dope Magazine)

The community of Preston had been supportive of them, she said, and so they wanted to give back when they could.

An Oct. 3 update in the Snoqualmie Valley Record indicated the Kind Alternative may be back in operation in Preston after zoning laws are updated. Meanwhile, they're still making deliveries to patients and serving them from MMJ Universe.

Though running MMJ Universe is more legally involved than say, a doggy day care, Finley said it's worth it. "It's a win-win," she said, "to find something where you can help people. It's so heartwarming to see people come in with braces and canes and walkers and just find relief."

For more information visit mmjuniverse.com.

dexterjibs October 16, 2012 at 05:23 PM
ANother purveyor of the big lies about marijuana being "medicinal". What a joke.
Aaron October 16, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Youre ignorance is showing. You should google how Marijuana convinces cancer cells to start diying off when nothing else will. Or how cannabinoids reduce inflamation of nerve endings. Or better yet study about why Pharmacutical companys are spending more to research marijuana as a medicine then any other plant or element.
non conformist October 17, 2012 at 05:36 AM
mr.dexterjibs your a joke,ever heard of a CBD .....maby you should read up on this before you go putting people down,i guess all the university all around the country studying this plant are doing it for no reason..Looks like your another person blinded by the Prohibition against marijuana,thats never tell me what does that sh!t your blowing out of your mouth do......... nothing but cause cancer witch study's are finding cannabis stops but you know it all huh keep smoking on those cigars till cancer gets you and your going though chemotherapy,tell me cannabis doesn't help you eat and manage pain..the joke is you have no idea what compounds cannabis can be turned into with a little know how this plant holds massive medicinal value that we are only beginning to learn of..so jokes on you buddy go buy a bottle of scotch or whatever it is ignorant people like you do when you want to forget what a spineless conformist you are..
dexterjibs October 17, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Oh mr non conformist, I know a little more than you think when it comes to smoking weed. You want cannabinoids for medicine, then use it in pill form. I have no problem with that. If you are dying of cancer or Aids, smoke as much weed as you want, I don't care. But this whole medicinal marihuana thing is based on lies. The people behind this movement has no interest in healthcare, they are interested in smoking weed and getting high legally. Name one disease that smoking marihuana cures?
April Chan October 17, 2012 at 09:35 PM
That's something I've also wondered about, dexter. Perhaps someone more involved with medical marijuana can help me understand: why not just use pill form to administer the cannabinoids? Is it about better absorption? Lower cost? Smoking weed, like smoking cigarettes, does produce a second-hand effect if you're not doing it in isolation. Food products that aren't property marked could also be accidentally consumed. So you're potentially affecting other people if you're not careful. I'd think it would be a lot more low maintenance for everyone to just pop a pill, and appropriate warning labels would be on your pill bottle about user impairment just like they are on pharmaceuticals (which present their own vulnerabilities to being abused). Or is that naive? Please, educate me. And meanwhile, let's watch our language as well as personally attacking each other on here. Or as people younger than me say, 'stop hating - start educating.'
Paul October 17, 2012 at 11:13 PM
April every different form, affects people in different ways. A pill may help someone more for a long term effect such as with nausea but may not be potent enough to do much for someone who is medicating for pain. Also the effects of taking a pill will not even start to for anywhere from 45 mins to 2 hours depending on food in your stomach and how fast your digestive system works. Smoking can take effect in minutes. For anyone who thinks there are no medical benefits from the use of cannabis just need to educate themselves. Dexter, Cannabis is meant to help people cope just like a pain pill, a sleeping pill, medication for stress, pills to help people eat. Most Medications pharmaceutical companies sell dont cure anything they merely help a problem, most while creating other problems. http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/07/03/government-sponsored-study-destroys-deas-classification-of-marijuana/
April Chan October 18, 2012 at 04:05 AM
Thanks for that link, Paul. I had no idea the University of California system had a Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research. I also didn't realize there are already synthetic variations of THC available through the pharmaceutical route. Seems counter-intuitive though, to create THC in the lab when you have a natural plant that already contains the molecule. I'm also still wrapping my head around the fact that three of the four lead authors in that study the story mentions have worked with big pharma. I wonder what those ramifications are in the sense that down the line should DEA classification of marijuana change, big pharma will squeeze out the 'mom and pop' medical cannabis operation...
Sylvia Gustovio October 18, 2012 at 07:11 PM
A farmers market for marijuana is nothing but trouble in the making. They are illegal. But if we're going to treat marijuana as a medicine (which is what the medical marijuana community wants), then act like it! You don't see pharmaceutical companies getting together and having some big old shindig outdoor market, sharing their medicines out in the open for the whole world to see. Its a farce, phony fake. With a dispensary there regularly, and a weekend market every single weekend there is bound to be illegal quantities of marijuana on site at any given time. The state law stipulates 72 ounces! There is no way they are within this limit.
Dr Chong October 20, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Sylvia from Black Diamond ;) I have been to the MMJ farmers market in black diamond. The owner Deidre, Is extremely professional and follows all the rules. She requires a current ID and a prescription from a doctor. You can't get a prescription without a doctor documenting your chronic condition. I don't think you're ignorant I think you're just trying to cause trouble, note: your knowledge of 72 ounces. And you you! should post your real name. You naysayer, you troublemaker, I saw nowhere near 72 ounces on the premises. It's better to be thought a fool in keep your mouth shut then open it and remove all doubt. Karma will get you. ;) Hugs and kisses, Consider this an education!
Jawbone Kent October 22, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Where's my prescription? I'm a 100% Disabled Veteran and maybe this would help with Chronic Pain versus consuming Bottles of Pills monthly..
dexterjibs October 22, 2012 at 03:39 AM
Jawbone, go see Dr Mohammed Said in Bellevue. For $200 he will interview you for 15 minutes and write you a prescription for any ailment you claim to have. Keep in mind he is only open a few hours a week. This is why I say the medical marihuana law is a front for people who want to get high legally. Very few, if any, legitmate doctors give out prescriptions for medical marihuana because they know there is very little benefit in marihuana for medicianl use.
randy b November 09, 2012 at 01:24 AM
ok I normaly dont ever post on these bloggs fror the simple fact that everyone thinks there a knower of all things cannabis i happen to voleenteer at a collective in Black Diamond and i Also volunteer at the Green Valley farmers market for o0ne this i wanted to say why take anything in pill form ? so the big companies can make a proffit off peoples illness ?? im all for the people i feel local farmers of cannabis is a safer way to injest my meds i have scoliosis and severe hip and knee problems on the verge of a knee replacement and im tols surgrie on my spine in the near future i use to gtet steroid injections in my spine and ladies if you had kids and had an epidural then you know the pain im talking about thats just a breef medical history on me so why would i want to take any pill from any pharmaceutical company so they can make huge proffits off me and others like me?? i say we need to keep the famlies and local vendors working not the big drug companies i hatre when people talk down about something they have no idea about were not dug loards running cartels lol im a simple person that needs help and not be ripped off who knows what they would put in the THC pill for a binder did u ever think of that? at least i know all my meds are grown in a controlled enviorement with care and concern to my health as well as others .....my 2 cents
David W. Dukes January 05, 2013 at 07:19 PM
Ohh you dont know squat Mr. run my mouth while foot is inserted. More people die from Marinol, and the dosing is completely wrong. You take one, you dont feel it work on the pain. You take two, you may be one of the five people a year that die from Marinol. I had a prescription for a year. And natural works better, is safer, and is just straight up more enjoyable. Now take your big pharma supporting puppet arse on down the sheeple highway. And one disease they have proved it cures...CANCER. Now go back to watching Fox, and complete your download of propoganda into that little sheeple brain you have.

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