Washington voters legalized weed about 20 months and some 600 days ago, and the first wave of retail pot stores is finally poised to open on Tuesday.
After Colorado, Washington’s Seattle city will become the second to allow retail sales of recreational marijuana to adults. The legal status to the weed will come under a heavily regulated and taxed system that voters approved in November 2012.
As many as 20 stores are expected to open statewide Tuesday onwards.
The medical marijuana in Washington is largely unregulated so the state had to build its regulatory system.
Regulated retail sales rolled out in Colorado fairly smoothly in January this year. It collected millions of dollars per month in tax revenues since then.
Cannabis City owner James Lathrop, who is opening his Seattle pot shop this week, says the biggest concern is the possibility of running out of mind-altering bud in a matter of hours.
“What do you do when your shelves are empty? Do I just send everybody home? Do we try and stay open? I can’t pay people if we aren’t selling anything,” said Lathrop, who expects to become one of Washington state’s first legal marijuana retailers this week as the state issues licenses.
Dominic Corva, executive director of Seattle’s Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy, said, “Shoppers looking to get high on Tuesday could see a gram selling at USD 15 to USD 30. Novelty-seekers and tourists might pay USD 25 or USD 30 per gram – roughly twice the current price at weakly regulated medical dispensaries. At those prices, heavy users will stick with neighborhood dispensaries or drug dealers.”
The investors and regulators are also hopeful that the market will register upward trend in the coming months as more growers, processors and retailers come on line.
Bob Leeds, co-owner of Seattle-based Sea of Green Farms, said, “It’ll be at least three to five years before we meet the demand.”
Sea of Green Farms got its license to grow and process pot in March this year.
Some important facts about weed stores
The first wave of stores will be opening on Tuesday in Washington. Only one store is poised to open in Seattle. According to the state officials, there is plan to eventually license 334 stores. However, the number might drop to 305 as no one applied to sell pot in 29 locations. Seattle was allotted 21 stores.
The stores are allowed only in certain parts of cities. The weed stores can’t be opened near schools, parks, libraries. However, there are no rules prohibiting bringing of families to the shops but only 21 or older can enter a store. The law allows buying of up to an ounce of dried marijuana. The first store opening in Seattle will have just 10 pounds on hand, It plans to sell packages limited to 2 grams in weight.
The buyers will require to show proof of age while purchasing weed, but state officials say they will not track your activities.
The retailers will be allowed to open their stores as early as 8 a.m. until midnight, seven days a week. The store owners, however, can determine its hours within that range.