Freeland man plans a medical marijuana co-op
February 1, 2011 · Updated 11:27 AM
Captn Blynd says the reaction to his plan to form a local medical marijuana cooperative has been slim to none. For local law enforcement, it appears to be wait-and-see.
“There’s been nothing so far,” Blynd said Thursday morning after going public this week with his idea. “I’ve been outside playing with the dog today, and nobody yelled at me.”
For some time, Blynd has been growing marijuana for his own medical use. Down the road, however, he wants to bring local growers and patients together legally in a collective that would benefit both.
The law for now is content to watch Blynd’s proposal unfold.
“What he’s describing isn’t explicitly illegal,” Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks said Thursday. “At this point, we’re not going to go and raid him.”
“We follow the law, and he has to comply with the law,” Island County Sheriff Mark Brown said Thursday. “If he can prove he has a legitimate right to have marijuana, then no arrest would be made.”
Blynd, 49, who suffers from two painful genetic conditions, one since childhood, says that after a lifetime struggle with powerful prescription drugs, marijuana has been a revelation, one he hopes to expand and share.
“This is a medical solution that changed my life,” he said. “I don’t think we should be denying it to anybody.”
Since he moved to Freeland from Nevada nearly two years ago, Blynd has become certified as a legal user of medical marijuana, and said he has grown a legal amount of the controversial herb to meet his needs. According to state law, he can have 15 plants, and no more than 24 ounces of loose material.
The law also stipulates that medical marijuana be distributed one-to-one — one grower, one patient. Blynd said he could legally grow for one other authorized person, for a total of 30 plants.
“But I’m growing it for my own use,” Blynd said. “I’m not supplying anybody.”
Before going public with his co-op idea, he notified Banks.
“If he wants to contact me, I’d be happy to go to lunch,” Blynd said Thursday.
“I’d be glad to talk with him,” Banks responded. “It looks like he’s not trying to skulk around.”
To advance his plan, Blynd formed a company called MedBot, and began advertising locally this week. He envisions the company — which he registered with the state Department of Revenue earlier this month — as the administrative agent for the cooperative, making sure laws are followed and taxes are paid, and that the product goes only to authorized patients.
At the same time, Blynd hopes the business would break even while allowing growers to make a small profit, providing income opportunities for those who are unable to do other work, and offering patients lower prices than are currently available.
He said illegal marijuana can go for as much as $300 an ounce on the street, and that prices for medical marijuana often are too high, too.
“Other people are charging too much,” he said. “It’s only a plant.”
He said that under his scheme, the number of growers and the amount grown would only match the requirements of the co-op members.
“This is going to be all above-board,” he said. “There would be no crimes committed. I’m opposed to crime.”
Blynd said he supports the guidelines of a bill introduced in the state Legislature recently which would clarify issues surrounding medical marijuana.
Banks agreed that medical marijuana “is a huge gray area” legally, especially regarding distribution, which can easily become illegal. The law must be more focused, he said.
“The Legislature needs to become more assertive to clean this up,” he said.
Banks said patients can be put in a bind, if they are unable or unwilling to grow their own marijuana. Many turn to the black market.
“You don’t just put magic beans in the ground,” he said.
Banks said his office has begun research to learn how other counties in the state are handling the issue.
“It’s a reality,” he said. “The potential that it will be diverted to illegal purposes, that’s our major concern.”
Blynd said he and his wife Kate moved to Washington after 30 years in Las Vegas because it’s one of 15 states that permit the sale and use of medical marijuana. Nevada also permits it, but Blynd said he didn’t like the law-enforcement vibe.
A computer technician by trade, Blynd said he retired years ago when his disabilities made it impossible for him to work an eight-hour day.
Blynd has suffered since age 8 from psoriatic arthritis, which painfully inflames the joints. He has also suffered from retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease, since his early 20s, and is legally blind.
After years of prescription painkillers, he said he’s now down to one chemotherapy-type drug.
“Other than that, the only thing prescribed by a doctor is cannabis,” Blynd said.
In fact, his framed official authorization from his doctor for medical marijuana is posted on the door of his growing location.
Blynd said he obtains his plants from authorized medical marijuana growers, although the colorful names probably still reflect the drug culture. He’s currently growing Train Wreck and Citrus. Recent additions are Purple Arrow and Dynamite.
Blynd (rhymes with “bind”) said his own unusual name isn’t his given one; it was an ID from his computer days that stuck, reflecting his eye condition. He has changed the name legally. His middle initial is “R.”
“Everybody knew me as that, so I just went with it,” he said. “I just like it so much better than who I was.
“I’ve reinvented myself several times,” he added. “I just reached the point that I really am who I choose to be.”
Blynd said his wife of 30 years, a medical receptionist, has no role in his marijuana activities.
“We made a decision that because of her job, she is in no way, shape or form involved,” Blynd said. “If anybody asks her about it, she says ‘Go talk to my husband.’”
“But she’s happy about the changes marijuana has made in me,” he added.
“I suppose that’s emotional involvement.”
Blynd’s goal is to make things easier for medical marijuana growers and patients to live and prosper under the law.
“I tell people I use marijuana for pain, and they think there must be something bad about me. I don’t get it,” he said. “I’m on my soapbox. This is something I’ve become impassioned about.”
For more information, e-mail Blynd at firstname.lastname@example.org.