Luciano Giovanni, the owner and operator of Alternative Care Clinic, a marijuana dispensary in Georgetown, has had a few rough weeks. The dispensary was the victim of a robbery in the early hours of March 11th. According to Giovanni, the burglars stole over $25,000 worth of goods and equipment, primarily in edibles and plants.
It’s bad news for the dispensary, which is one of the few LGBTQ-owned marijuana businesses in Seattle. Giovanni makes a special effort to create a welcoming environment for gay patients, and he actively supports LGBTQ community events and activism. So it’s distressing to hear Giovanni say that he’s in danger of losing the business.
“This could put me out of business. I’m basically going from week to week just trying to keep the shelves stocked,” says Giovanni, a genial guy with a neat beard and low-key tattoos. He favors polo shirts and slacks—he makes the impression more of a businessman than a sketchy weed dealer.
Seattle Gay Scene’s stoned, cosmopolitan and accepting readers probably don’t care about the appearances of their pot suppliers. But Giovanni casually mentioned over the course of our conversation that over the past few years, he knew of dispensary owners who’ve been arrested for things like dealing guns and hard drugs out the back door and loansharking.
Giovanni is one of the good guys, the kind of person you want running a business near your home, who would make an effort to learn your name and habits if you were a regular. He’s incurred serious expenses at a time when he’s already started losing patients because of the new shops allowed by I-502 and a crowded medical market.
In addition to the lost merchandise, Giovanni had to hire contractors to repair the doors that the burglars broke open. Any small business struggles to keep up with unexpected expenses, but it’s especially hard for members of the marijuana industry to keep up with costs. Because weed is still a very illegal drug on the federal level, banks and insurance companies aren’t able to serve any pot-related businesses.
“If the banks know what kind of business you are, they don’t want to hold your account,” Giovanni says. “So if you want to go through the hassle of having a bank account and accepting credit cards, you have to do a whole smoke and mirrors.”
Any other small business would be able to insure against property damage and theft, but Alternative Care Clinic simply can’t—they can’t get an insurance policy or a loan, which means that Giovanni had to pay out of pocket to cover the expenses the burglars inflicted on the dispensary.
So Giovanni has to be creative in order to get back on his feet. Alternative Care Clinic is hosting a barbeque, the Spring Smoke-Out, on April 25, 2015, from 1pm to 7pm to try and raise some cash to make up for what was lost in the robbery. Anyone who comes by will get drinks and a burger, and folks with medical cards will get a joint compliments of Alternative Care Clinic if they make a purchase in the dispensary.
It’s well worth your while—you can get some good bud, meet the charming Bud Boys, and support a business that goes out of its way to help the LGBTQ community. Even more than that, you’ll keep nasty creeps from muscling out Giovanni and converting your gay kids to a hetero, gun running lifestyle. But seriously, folks, go help out a small business, and an LGBTQ entrepreneur, that deserves your support.
Alternative Care Clinic
5609 4th Ave S, Seattle, Washington 98108
(Editor’s Note: We’ve corrected some false information mistakenly included in this article. Alternative Care Clinic is not the only marijuana related business in Seattle to have LGBTQ ownership. Apologies to all.)