Held February 27 at South Lake Union's Little Red Bistro (400 Dexter Avenue North, 328.5981, littleredbistro.com), the market -- which offers safe access to authorized medical marijuana patients -- felt connected to a vital and supportive neighborhood.
Sure, I'd already been to several of the markets in Tacoma. But those events are held in what feels like an abandoned warehouse district. It was a much different experience walking through a happy, functioning restaurant on the way back to the buzzing Moroccan Room where Seattle's market was held.
Not long after I got inside, I got a chance to talk with Hempfest organizer Vivian McPeak. He seemed as pumped as I was. Grinning, McPeak told me that a cannabis farmers market seemed like an impossible dream not that long ago.
"I always hoped I'd someday get to come to events like this," he said, "and now, here we are!"
His comments made me think of the struggle I had only three years ago -- after getting a doctor's authorization to use medical marijuana -- just to find a provider. The old paradigm of a seller's market, where the few collectives in town can be exclusive about whom to accept as patients, has certainly shifted.
?Now it's a true buyer's market, with dispensaries actively competing for business. And that's one major goal of the farmers market, first held in Tacoma last October: To help patients living in outlying areas connect with providers who tend to run their businesses in larger cities, a spokesman for the market told me.
Photo: Steve Elliott Found at the Farmers Market: This OG Kush from delivery service The Herban Collective (206-724-6474) makes an excellent nighttime smoke for pain and insomnia.
One thing's for sure: We have made progress on marijuana policy in Washington. I'm not just talking about progress that took decades to achieve, either. There has been a major shift in just the past three years.
Police were nowhere to be seen at the market.
"It's not a big deal," a Seattle Police Department spokesman said before the event. "Our priorities are a reflection of community priorities." I love the Emerald City!
As I drifted from table to table--beautiful Afgoo buds here, alluring chocolate edibles there, neat rows of tincture bottles everywhere--I thought about how radically different the medical marijuana model is from the pharmaceutical model.
I talked face-to-face with the people responsible for producing my medicine. I learned a little about the genetics of each plant, and the best way to take advantage of their unique medicinal characteristics, straight from the farmers who'd grown them. That's a lot different than taking a generic pill manufactured by Big Pharma.
The inaugural Seattle event was a huge success, no doubt helped by the fact that it was held on a beautiful Sunday. At least 600 people visited the market, according to organizer Jeremy Miller. The house was so packed, in fact, that the event is already looking for a larger venue.
Vending space for the second edition of the Seattle market, scheduled for March 13, has already been sold out. "And we've already sold about half of the spots for March 27," market spokeswoman Sharon Whitson told me.
"The truly great thing is that the March 13 Seattle market will have a certain percentage of new vendors," Sharon said. "I think having a rotation will be great for patients to experience a variety of options."
And so do I.
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Steve Elliott edits Toke of the Town, Village Voice Media's site of cannabis news, views, rumor and humor.