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Friday, December 14, 2018  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Women play leading role in emerging marijuana businesses in Washington state

Shilo Morgan, owner of Lucky Leaf in downtown Spokane, is one of the women who are a major force in the local cannabis business scene. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Shilo Morgan, owner of Lucky Leaf in downtown Spokane, is one of the women who are a major force in the local cannabis business scene. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Shilo Morgan, co-owner of the Lucky Leaf Co. marijuana shop, prides herself on running a clean family business.

Working in the shop with her are her brother, Ben Turento, and cousins Sergio Deleon and Justin Fulten.

“When you come in it’s like a family feel,” Morgan said.

She is among a number of women in Spokane who are taking leading roles in the emergent recreational marijuana industry in Washington state.

Last week, Morgan was on the sales floor greeting her customers and offering hugs to some of the regulars.

Morgan and her husband, Daniel Morgan, opened their first marijuana retail shop in Pasco, but were blocked by city zoning regulations.

They moved to Spokane to keep from going bankrupt and haven’t looked back.

“Spokane is wonderful,” she said. “Everything is so welcoming.”

To encourage good business practices, Morgan started an Eastern Washington Cannabis Association, which has been working to develop a hemp festival in Spokane. The event would be billed as an educational affair, not a smoking event.

Morgan said she wants the public to know that marijuana businesses and their customers are “just like everybody else.”

Crystal Oliver, a grower and processor in Spokane County, said she is thrilled to be on the cutting edge of a new industry.

“How often do you get the opportunity to enter a brand new industry in its infancy?” she said.

Her business goes by the name of Washington’s Finest Cannabis, which distributes primarily to shops in the local region. They grow their marijuana outdoors in the vicinty of Deer Park.

Her roots in the business date back to the 2012 Initiative 502 campaign that succeeded in winning voter approval for recreational marijuana. She then worked with the state on developing regulations.

Oliver is on the board of the Cannabis Farmers Council and a member of Women in Weed, a national organization that meets locally for private social events.

She recently appeared on a program about marijuana at the South Side Senior and Community Center in Spokane where she said she fielded a lot of questions about the substance’s medical.

Oliver serves as an executive assistant for that organization. She is married to Kevin Oliver, the executive director of Washington NORML, an organization that has advocated for legalization for more than 40 years.

She also served on an advisory council for developing fire code regulations for marijuana extraction and worked with the Spokane Clean Air Agency on rules to contain odors at marijuana farms.

“I am busy,” she said. “I do a lot of advocacy work.”

Oliver also is on advisory committee for the Washington State Cannabis and Liquor Board.

Morgan said she tries to spend ample time on the sales floor. “I like to come down here and see all my happy customers,” she said.

She carries a wide range of products, from smokable marijuana flowers to topical lotions, balms and ointments, as well as edible products.

Another item on the shop’s menu is the “pre-roll,” otherwise known as a “joint” in street slang.

Morgan said she tries not to use the term weed. “It’s not called weed,” she said. “It’s flower.”

Samples with any of the drug in them are not allowed under state law.

The Lucky Leaf Co. has 450 customers in its loyalty program.

The age range of customers is skewed toward adults age 40 and older, including Baby Boomers, many of whom use marijuana to ease aches and pains and other health concerns, Morgan said. However, the store does not sell medical-grade marijuana products.

The Morgans have two children, a 14-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son.

Shilo Morgan said she has been open and honest with the children, explaining that marijuana is an adult product and should not be used by minors. So far, the children have been listening, she said.

Morgan hands out brochures from the Spokane Regional Health District that discourage illegal use by people under 21, which is the legal age for purchasing and using recreational marijuana.

Women tend to bring an air of respect to the marijuana business, Morgan said.

As a grower, Crystal Oliver said she has been interested in working with seed cultivars to develop disease resistance and variations in the essential oils in marijuana.

Her products, which can be found at retail shops in Spokane, include a variety known as Maui Sunset that can be traced back to the days of undercover growing in Hawaii, she said.

Another cultivar, Blue Dream, is a high producer. The variety called Diesel is an old strain that turns purple in the fall prior to harvest.

Oliver’s reserve strain is a type of cannabis from Afghanistan that is good for making hash.

One of her passions is to support the small family businesses that make up much of the marijuana industry. She said she is concerned about big corporate money trying to take over.

“The small independent farmers are struggling,” she said.


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