New marijuana law piques interest of local farmers

EVERETT, Wash. -- Washington's newly-passed recreational marijuana law is opening up a whole new world for local farmers.

Farmer Bruce King makes his money selling pigs, but he's thinking about diversifying his business by adding marijuana.

"With pot you have a crop which will make on an acre what might take you 500 acres and a half million to make with a conventional farm," he said.

King maintains a blog aimed at his fellow farmers, and he said three dozen of his readers have shown interest in opening their own marijuana farms.

The idea of adding large amounts of pot to the area isn't sitting well with all of King's neighbors. Farmer Cora Cunningham said she's going to stick with cows and doesn't like the idea of farmers using prime agriculture real estate to grow marijuana.

"When they don't have beef or food or fruit to eat, what are they going to do, just smoke pot?" she said.

Even if King starts a pot farm, he said he would have no interest in sampling his own crops.

"I've actually never tried it and have no interest in it," he said. "You don't have to like Brussels sprouts to grow Brussels sprouts."

King is far from the first farmer to see there's money to be had in marijuana. The Liquor Control Board, which will regulate marijuana farms, has received daily calls from people interested in growing, processing or selling pot. Thousands more have signed up for email updates, according to the board.

Under federal law, it's still illegal to grow pot. However, the Liquor Control Board is busy developing a list of rules and officials say the Department of Justice will soon issue a policy to let the state know what it should expect.

"I think there's going to be 10,000 licenses before we're done," King said.

Kind isn't waiting. He plans to buy his $250 license and a greenhouse so he can start bringing home the bacon in more ways than one. He estimates he could make $40,000 more per acre by growing pot than from his pigs, though he plans on doing both.