Opinion

EDITORIAL | The green, green grass of Greenbank

The publicly owned Greenbank Farm is having a dickens of a time sustaining itself. The Port of Coupeville owns the developed acreage but the farm bleeds money. The port “farms out” management to the Greenbank Farm Management Group, which needs an annual subsidy from the cash-strapped port to operate.

To simplify things, the Port of Coupeville should take over when its contract with the management group expires. The Port of South Whidbey, for example, hires the staff to operate its Langley Marina.

What the Port of Coupeville really needs is an income stream that will allow it to manage the farm and make a profit to help meet other needs. Nobody has had a really good idea how to do this in the 15 years since the 500-acre farm, once known as the loganberry capital of the world, was purchased by the public.

The wise voters of Washington state fixed the problem in the 2012 election. The Greenbank Farm now has a cash crop at its disposal if the port has the courage to pursue it. That would be marijuana, which is now legal to grow and ingest in Washington.

The statewide marijuana initiative received 56 percent support in Island County, so the majority of islanders like the idea of marijuana production. They also liked the idea of selling liquor in every grocery store, where the dog food used to be. So the port commissioners can proceed knowing they have the support of the public.

According to the initiative, it will cost only $250 to apply for a license to grow marijuana, and $1,000 annually to keep a license. What will deter most entrepreneurs is the distance requirements: No growing marijuana within 1,000 feet of any school, playground, recreation center, child care center, park, transit center, library or game arcade. It should be easy to find a place on the huge farm distant enough from all those things to grow some marijuana.

The initiative also allows the producer to process its marijuana, meaning the Greenbank Farm could grow it, package and sell it to retail outlets. With its sunny exposure, the farm should be able to grow a vast amount of marijuana. They say it sells at roughly $200 an ounce retail, so wholesale income should be phenomenal.

Marijuana can make the Greenbank Farm prosper. We’ll toast to that with a glass of loganberry wine infused, perhaps, with a tincture of marijuana.

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