Seattle’s Finest: Solstice Rides the Wave of Change in Washington
Since its founding in 2011 Solstice has set the tone for transparent, responsible cannabis cultivation in Washington state.
Coveted for its rich CBD properties, Sour Tsunami #3 is in high demand by patients in Washington state. Rich in the cannabinoid gaining traction for its broad healing applications, the strain is potent medicine and motivated Solstice – an all-indoor medical cannabis producer and processor based in Seattle – to partner with greenhouse farmers in order to meet the needs of their community.
“It’s a phenomenal sativa,” Solstice co-founder Alex Cooley says of the strain. “It has provided benefit to a lot of people from 6-year-old children with Dravet syndrome all the way up to 90-year-olds fighting cancer, so we’re really proud of that one.”
As the state attempts to bring two systems of cannabis production and sale in line with each other, Solstice looks towards providing quality products for both medicinal and adult-use. The company is actively working with the state to keep their medical grow in compliance with new regulations while also getting out of the city with its newest venture – a 44-acre recreational cannabis farm.
“When we started Solstice over four years ago, the vast majority was homegrow and it was done kind of in shady circumstances. People weren’t testing, people were renaming strains, they weren’t doing microbial testing, they were growing next to kitty litter boxes and things like that,” Cooley says. “We really felt that in order to hand something to a person who is extremely sick or dying in the last stages of their life and tell them that this is a legitimate medicine and it’s a legitimate alternative or co-treatment to what western medicine is and what else they’re utilizing, the medication itself, it needed to be produced to the same standards that chemotherapy drugs and things like that were being made.”
But, before Solstice could begin providing quality cannabis for medical patients, it would need a solid foundation to grow from. When the company moved into its headquarters – a 15,000-square-foot space within Seattle’s industrial LoDo district built in 1927 – it worked with the city to upgrade energy and electric codes to become the state’s first fully-permitted cannabis facility.
“I worked with the city of Seattle for almost two years on the zoning language and concept that turned into an ordinance that turned into code,” Cooley explains. “We were able to prove that cannabis cultivators are legitimate businesses and we were able to create a much safer building for our staff that was much better for the environment as a result of all the codes we had to meet.”
Within its current medical production facility five organic, hand-cultivated strains create four core products: flowers, pre-rolled joints, capsules and extracts. Solstice then works with a network of medical dispensaries that supply the product to patients.
“We wanted to be an example or a model of legitimate supply chain processes. That’s why we only focus on being producers and processors,” Cooley says. “That way we’re able to work with a network of partner access points who can bring that level of legitimate and high-quality medication to so many more people as opposed to they would just have to come to our shop.”
One of Solstice’s core partnerships is with the Northwest Patients Resource Center (NWPRC).
“Solstice is a great organization to work with,” NWPRC founder and CEO John Davis says. “I’ve been involved with them for years on developing best practices. Solstice, as well as Northwest Patients Resource Center, has always been very policy forward in working with regulators and legislators to figure out what the best practices are.”
As the medical system is brought in line with the adult-use system in Washington, both organizations are sure to continue on as trailblazers for a legitimate cannabis industry. Along with the farm, Solstice has broken ground on a recreational processing facility about a mile from their current home. As it continues to move forward, Solstice can also look back at the foundation that shaped its beginnings.
“It was about the change, it was about moving things forward,” Cooley says. “We wanted to take it from what marijuana was and take it to what cannabis can be.”
Originally published in issue 16 of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE.