Steve Bloom and Drew Perine
BY CRAIG SAILOR
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A Shelton- and Tacoma-based pot business is now growing marijuana for Willie’s Reserve, the brand launched by country music star and cannabis connoisseur Willie Nelson.
It’s another major twist in the South Sound company’s story, which was run out of one county only to be embraced by another.
Brothers Taylor and Garrett Balduff are the owners of the cannabis operation called Forbidden Farms. They grow their cannabis in Mason County, near Shelton, and process it on Tacoma’s Tideflats.
“To get an endorsement from an American icon is pretty awesome,” Taylor said.
The brothers smoked some of their Maui Wowie strain with Nelson backstage July 23 at his Marymoor Park concert.
“He was a fan,” Taylor said. “He liked it most definitely.”
Nelson is selling his brand, to which the Balduff brothers are contributors, in various Washington pot shops. Forbidden Farms is one of three in Washington listed as growers for Willie’s Reserve.
To get Nelson’s approval, an inspection team visited the farm in early 2016.
“They were absolutely blown away with what we were doing,” Taylor said. The team was impressed with the natural light the brothers use to grow their cannabis while still maintaining top quality.
Taylor, 32, manages the processing operation. Garrett, 35, manages the farm. They employ 18 workers. Both brothers and employees switch between the two sites as needed.
“It’s the new American Dream,” Garrett said. “Working together, owning our own business. It’s a new industry, and we were able to get our foot in the door.”
The Balduffs grew up in Bonney Lake and Buckley. Taylor worked in property management while Garrett worked in home remodeling. Both dabbled with collective marijuana gardens before taking on cannabis full time.
It wasn’t easy getting off the ground.