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Willie's Weed

Country singer Willie Nelson gets help from a local processor

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One Washington processor is getting a country kick after partnering with country music legend and legalization advocate Willie Nelson on his new company, Willie's Reserve.

The company is working with growers and processors in Colorado and Washington, including Spokane's Growing Like a Weed, an I-502 producer/processor located in the Mountain Dome Winery building, to grow product it can then package under the Willie's Reserve name.

"Willie and his family, and a few close friends, developed the brand with emphasis on environmental and social issues, to lend support to the gradual end to marijuana prohibition across America," a 2015 press release announcing the brand states.

GLW master gardener and salesman Fred Renteria says a representative from Willie's Reserve reached out a couple of months ago, shortly after the processor switched from the medical to the recreational market.

The representative was impressed with GLW's organic approach to the growing process.

"We take the approach that it doesn't have to be in a bottle or be a pesticide to get you through," Renteria says. "A lot of people get so far away from gardening that they forget what they're doing. That's what we're doing, gardening, so it should be healthy dirt, healthy plants. It shows the best product."

GLW is currently growing Silvertip for Willie's Reserve, which the company is buying in bulk and will divide into flower, pre-rolls, edibles and oil.

Willie's Reserve products will be available in Washington and Colorado in the near future. Renteria says the brand plans to make its first purchase later this month, followed by a soft opening later in the summer.

He's seen a lot of celebrity-endorsed marijuana products sell because of the name on the product, not the quality, but Renteria says that Willie's Reserve is focusing on the right things.

"Rather than hiding behind Willie, the product can actually stand up side by side," he says. "If more people took the approach that they're taking — taking their time to get in the industry and doing the right steps — those are the businesses that are going to succeed."

The brand hopes to expand into other states as legalization becomes more widespread, and Renteria hopes that GLW, which also grows for nearly a dozen Washington dispensaries, including locals Canna House, Sativa Sisters, Satori and Green Light, is along for the ride.

"Right now, we're in enough stores to keep us happy," he says. "But to have that power to be in any store possible is great." ♦