Thurston has its first state-licensed pot grower

Staff writerJune 8, 2014 

This will not be a new line of work for Jeff Gilmore.

“There hasn’t been a day I haven’t gotten up at 6 a.m. and started selling pot in the last 45 years,” Gilmore said.

What is new is state government’s stamp of approval. The Liquor Control Board handed a marijuana producer-processor license May 28 to business partners Gilmore, David Brown and Mary McKnew, a former member of the liquor board.

And with that, Thurston County has its first licensed marijuana grower.

The partners are allowed to use up to 7,000 square feet on property next to Gilmore’s home near Tenino to grow the plants.

Brown and McKnew are from Olympia.

As he suggests, Gilmore comes to the partnership with expertise cultivated over a long history of growing and selling illegally in Thurston County.

Gilmore said he’s also given much of his product away.

“I grow some of the finest pot in the world,” he boasted, “and most of it seems to make it into the hands of the severely ill and terminally ill.”

At 60, Gilmore said he has “never had a day job.” He weathered a 1990s felony conviction and stayed in the industry long enough to cheer voters’ approval of a legalization ballot measure in 2012, then secured one of the state’s first 50 licenses under the new scheme.

The liquor board was waiting last week for 12 more potential growers and processors to pay their final license fee, while 113 were in the final stages of state investigation.

But that’s only a fraction of the more than 2,800 who applied for the licenses, which includes more than 600 applicants who haven’t even been assigned to an investigator yet. No stores have yet been licensed, something that could happen in less than a month.

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