Ferndale mayor candidate battled city, state over pot

Vicca Thompson, who is running for Ferndale mayor, stands in front of a “Vote Vicca” sign spray-painted on the side of her store, The Grow Shop, on Monday, July 13, 2015.
Vicca Thompson, who is running for Ferndale mayor, stands in front of a “Vote Vicca” sign spray-painted on the side of her store, The Grow Shop, on Monday, July 13, 2015. The Bellingham Herald

Over the past year Vicca Thompson, who is running to be the next Ferndale mayor, has battled with the city over her medical marijuana operation and with the state over her providing marijuana products to her child.

In November 2014, the city gave Vicca and her husband Jesse Thompson’s store, Ferntucky Medical/The Grow Shop, notice to shut its doors. In addition to providing medical marijuana through their storefront, which city staff members pointed out is illegal under state law, the shop on Portal Way had several violations for work that had been done without permits.

The day before the city told the couple to cease operations at their store, Child Protective Services opened an investigation in an unrelated case to see whether Vicca’s two sons had been given marijuana. An employee the couple had fired earlier had called the state, claiming the kids were given weed on a regular basis, Vicca Thompson said.

She admits to giving her oldest son an edible containing weed when he was 12 years old. She also gave him tinctures containing weed as ear drops, and used marijuana-infused salves on his skin, she said. He lives with his father, Vicca’s ex.

When the state did a hair test on the Thompsons’ 6-year-old son, the sample tested positive for THC, an active chemical in marijuana.

Vicca, a medical marijuana patient and daily pot user, says she has only used salves containing marijuana on her youngest son and has never given him any to consume. She said she does not smoke, but drinks juices containing the drug, and uses tinctures and salves.

The couple’s youngest son was in CPS custody for six weeks and was returned to them on the condition he receive regular urine tests for THC for six weeks, Vicca Thompson said.

He passed those tests and the case has been closed, Thompson said.

When asked what she would like readers to know about her case, Thompson said she is fighting the state labeling her as a child-abuser.

“I feel like it wasn’t abuse. ... He was 12, and it was a very, very tiny amount,” Thompson said.

When asked what she would tell voters who wonder if she would continue to use marijuana daily if elected mayor, she said, “I would want to help them understand that I’m not using and getting high the way that that makes it sound. It’s like taking an Advil or drinking some wheatgrass. It gives me energy, but I’m not high.”

As for her fight with the city, The Grow Shop is open and operating now only as a garden store. Thompson said she and her husband still deliver medical marijuana to patients from their personal plants.

Thompson claims she was “verbally abused” by Ferndale City Administrator Greg Young and then-city clerk Sam Taylor when she talked to them about operating her store earlier this year.

“They called me the madame of a brothel and said that I should leave town,” Thompson said.

Young and Taylor, who now works at the city of Morro Bay, Calif., both said the comment was not said in that way but was a reference to enforcing codes equally regardless of a business’s merits.

“My job is to be sure the law is applied evenly and consistently,” Young said. “The example I used, maybe an inartful example, was if a brothel came to town, we would not allow that because it’s against the law. The people who run it probably feel like it’s a service, but it’s against the law. No matter the motivation behind the entrepreneur, we can’t look at what’s good and what’s bad. We don’t make those societal decisions here at the city. We see if it’s allowed by law or not.”

Both Taylor and Young said it was clear to them the couple really cared about helping people, and were caring and dedicated people.

“They really believe in what they are doing,” Taylor said. “For anyone trying to do that type of business, the best thing they could do is get in touch with consultants or attorneys who help people create those types of businesses. It would really behoove them to get in touch with people who understand how to legally set up those businesses.”

Thompson said she plans to sue the state over the CPS case. She also said would sue the city of Ferndale

“I’m going to sue the city, too, yeah. That would be Greg Young, the mayor and the council, too, I guess,” Thompson said.

She quickly reversed that, saying she’d like to work out how to operate a medical marijuana storefront legally in the city.

“I haven’t really started the Ferndale thing because it’s the very last thing I want to do in my life is sue Ferndale,” she said, 30 seconds after threatening to sue. “ I would rather work it out amicably.”

Of the other four candidates running for Ferndale mayor — Cathy Watson, Jon Mutchler, Carol Bersch and J. Manuel Reta — a search of Washington state court records showed only speeding tickets.

Reta also had two incidents in Ferndale involving a potentially dangerous dog.

The top two vote-getters in the Aug. 4 primary will advance to the November general election.

Reach Samantha Wohlfeil at 360-715-2274 or samantha.wohlfeil@bellinghamherald.com. Read the Politics Blog at bellinghamherald.com/politics-blog and follow her on Twitter at @BhamPolitics.