Legal weed sales are about to start in Washington State as retailers have received their first electronic retail marijuana licenses. Even long lines and expected shortages of pot won’t spoil the fun, eager customers say.
Only 20 stores have received permits to sell just-for-fun cannabis, and they will welcome their first official customers as soon as Tuesday. Store owners are allowed to sell marijuana from 8 am Tuesday, but which of the stores will be up and running then is not yet clear.
So far, Cannabis City is the only recreational marijuana store that’s ready to open in Seattle, AP reported.
To handle potential crowds of customers, its owner James Lathrop has hired an events company. For their comfort there will be a food truck and free water arranged and a portable toilet, especially if people have to wait in line.
He planned to hold off on opening his store until noon Tuesday.
“Know your audience: We're talking stoners here,'' he said. “I'd be mean to say they need to get up at 5 am to get in line.''
It is already known that Alison Holcomb, the lawyer who drafted Washington State’s legal marijuana law, will be among the first customers at Cannabis City.
“No one thought legalization could happen in our lifetime,” she said. “I think this is going to be a little overwhelming for me.”
Lathrop plans to start his business with an initial supply of 10 pounds (4.6 kilograms) of dope. He says he may limit purchases to ensure everyone can go home with at least a 2-gram package.
The law allows customers to buy up to 1 ounce (28 grams) of marijuana. They also can buy up to 16 ounces (0.45 kilograms) of marijuana-infused product in solid form, or up to 72 ounces (2 kilograms) of marijuana-infused product in liquid form.
Another cannabis entrepreneur, John Evich, according to AP, is thinking hard to find ways to deliver marijuana to his Top Shelf Cannabis store in Bellingham. He considered loading the marijuana on his commercial crab boat and rushing it across Puget Sound, or even renting a helicopter.
“We're pretty stoked,” he said. “We haven't had any sleep in a long time, but we're excited for the next step.”
In Evich’s store, strains would be priced between $12 and $25. But the first lucky 50 or 100 customers will be able to get $10 grams of one cannabis strain, as Evich wants to thank Washington State’s residents for voting for the law.
At least another two stores could open in some smaller cities, including Tacoma and Spokane.
Adam Schmidt, of Clear Choice Cannabis in Tacoma, decided not to open his store this week, despite being on the list of the first approved store owners. His main concern was that the growers will not be able to deliver pot to him.
“I don’t want people to be waiting in line for four hours, and then I have to come out and tell them we don’t have any more,” he said.
Retail marijuana sales in Washington State will start Tuesday, to give stores at least 24 hours after the first licenses have been issued Monday.
Once store owners get their licenses, they must verify their bar-coded inventory and enter it into the state’s tracking system before they can sell cannabis.
The 24-hour “quarantine” after receiving licenses will give store owners time to placing their order with growers.
State regulators have accepted a total of 334 marijuana retail applications. However, the Washington State Liquor Control Board, which has been drafting rules and reviewing license applications, said that the majority of the applicants have not passed final inspections.
Some municipalities in Washington State have banned the retail sale of marijuana, however.
The days before the state issues license have been crazy for growers and retailers alike.
Workers at Nine Point Growth Industries in Bremerton had to work around the clock, rushing to sort their 30-pound harvest into 2-gram packages.
Nine Point Growth Industries owner Gregory Stewart has told AP that he and his director were “doing high-fives and our version of a happy dance” as they worked through some glitches in the pot-tracking software early Monday, and officially learned they will be able to transport their weed 24 hours later, at 2:22 am Tuesday.
With the first pot retail licenses being issued, Washington State has become the second state after Colorado to allow retail sales of recreational marijuana to adults over 21 years old. In Colorado sales started on January 1. In just the first week of legal sales surpassed $5 million.
The heavily regulated and taxed system that now allows marijuana sales was approved by voters in November 2012.