Washington’s first marijuana stores open with lines, short supply

Marchers at this year's Cannabis Freedom March across Capitol Hill (Image: CHS)

Marchers at this year’s Cannabis Freedom March across Capitol Hill (Image: CHS)

Anybody planning a road trip to be one of the first people in Washington state to purchase legal marijuana better hustle. The lines are already formed.

With 24 official state retail licenses issued — including one in Seattle — Tuesday marks the planned first day of sales at the few shops around the state ready for business and stocked with inventory:

Barring some 11th-hour business catastrophe, 10 pounds of marijuana will line these shelves Tuesday, a quantity Lathrop expects will sell out that day at $15 to $20 per gram. But until he officially receives his retail license from the state Monday, it’s only glass paraphernalia and small label plates that read “Fine Jewelry,” remnants from when the cases lived in a Sears department store.

4th Ave S’s Cannabis City and its 10 pounds of first-day-of-business pot joins 23 other stores in the first wave of Washington retailers.

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 7.56.13 AMMeanwhile, the owner of Mello Times, the only retailer within walking distance of Capitol Hill to make it through the state’s license lottery with a permit opportunity secured, told CHS his 24th and Union concern won’t be operating until later this summer at the earliest as he prepares the business for the long haul. Despite a pot-friendly, dense population, the various intertwining local and state rules around retail marijuana have conspired to keep Capitol Hill proper a legal pot shop-free zone. The black market will continue to thrive, of course, and the gray market, so far, is also making a game go of it. Capitol Hill’s thousand of apartment dwellers, unless the have a forward thinking building manager, might find it difficult to overcome the renter’s pot paradox. One solution to avoid the smoke — edibles. You can buy and possess 16 ounces of solid marijuana-infused products like brownies and candy. Use it wisely.

Marijuana legalization in Washington began rolling with the passage of I-502 in 2012 legalizing the purchase and possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. Advocates are now moving forward to protect medical marijuana in the state and to introduce legalized homegrown pot. Meanwhile, other states are watching Washington and the only other state in the union that has so far approved the sale of retail pot — Colorado.

If you do go shopping this week, expect some disappointment here and there as shops work out issues with supply — and demand.

18 thoughts on “Washington’s first marijuana stores open with lines, short supply

  1. Surely one of the goals of legalizing pot was to put a stop to, or at least minimize, the black market….and, indirectly, the importation of marijuana by drug cartels south of the border. But it looks like, for various reasons (including price), this goal will be a dismal failure.

    At least law enforcement can easily put an end to the gray market by shutting down the pot delivery businesses, and this should be done as soon as the retail stores are up and running…..because such businesses are illegal under the pot legislation.

    • Day 1 and you’ve already pronounced the entire system a dismal failure? I wish I was so good and seeing the future. Maybe we should, oh, I dunno— wait for the suppliers to catch up before we pronounce the entire system failed? Are you running for a Republican House seat or something?

      • Jim, I did not pronounce the entire system a dismal failure. My criticism was directed at the apparent failure of the legalized system to undercut and eliminate the black market.

        By the way, I’m an Independent politically.

        • No Calhoun, don’t mince words here. We all know how to read and write English here. Please show some backbone and back up what you said: “But it looks like, for various reasons (including price), this goal will be a dismal failure.” and “My criticism was directed at the apparent failure of the legalized system to undercut and eliminate the black market.” Should I get out a dictionary and define the word “failure” for you? Or do you fully understand what you wrote?

          Thanks to the Kafkaesque bureaucracy that is the Liquor Board, it’s taken 20 months to finally roll out a smattering of licenses. The legalization experiment, as Jim noted, is really on on Day 1. Give the free market some time to distribute its supply of locally grown weed, have some patience for the Liquor Board to get its damn act together and start issuing licenses, and give retailers and growers some time to start stabilizing prices once said supply is flowing through the stores. Or we can go back to the good ol’ days of Prohibition, and we all know what a roaring success that has been. Talk about dismal failures, man.

        • Looking back I can see you didn’t pronounce the entire system a failure, just the (alleged) goal of undercutting and eliminating the black market. Two problems with this:
          1. Your statement “Surely one of the goals of legalizing pot was to put a stop to, or at least minimize, the black market” is pure opinion on your part. I don’t remember anyone naively believing legalized pot would eliminate the black market ore even significantly undercut it. We’re just one state. Do you think all major weed consumption in the US will now channel through WA and CO and the supply lines to the rest of the country would dry up? Sounds silly when you put it that way, don’t it?
          2. Even if that WERE the goal (which it obviously wasn’t), was it supposed to do that on Day1 right out of the gate?

          You’re just splitting hairs. Call me easy (it’s been done before) but maybe I don’t expect the LCB to get it all 100% spot-on right from the starting gate. I’d much rather seen a measured, controlled implementation that– yes– actually requires some PATIENCE from people (yes– patience– it’s a thing– anyone remember it?), rather than a ‘ready-fire-aim’ approach just to pander to everyone’s need for instant gratification, which then blows up and has the Feds swoop in an shut it all down. Christalmighty, people, you’ve lived w/o legal weed this long, it won’t kill you to wait for the system to grow into itself. I’m perfectly OK w/ the “slow down and do it right” method. So rare these days, it seems.

          • Those who favor drug legalization….not just marijuana, but hard drugs as well….often mention that this would basically put the drug cartels out of business….which everyone must agree would be a good thing. I seem to remember this same point being mentioned during the drive to legalize pot here, but my memory might be faulty. And of course, you are right that with only two states legalizing so far, this will not put much of a dent in the cartels’ operations.

            I think my concern…that it is very possible the black market will continue to flourish in spite of legalization….is a legitimate one. The price differential at the moment (black market vs. retail stores) is huge….this may change as supply gets up to speed with demand, but my guess is that in the end there will remain a significant price differential…and that will drive many people to continue to support the black market. If I’m wrong about this, fine, but I don’t think I will be.

          • And for those who think my criticism is unfounded, please see the article in this week’s Stranger (“How the State Screwed Up”). The authors express the exact same concerns that I have written about here.

  2. The whole thing is embarrassing. Not as embarrassing as the decades-long War On Drugs, but still. We are so proud to be such prudes. Such stat-ignoring prudes.

    I’ll pay a premium for fully legal weed. It’s not all about price–I can’t get through a quarter without giving half of it away–bang for buck these prices are still worth it (three tokes and I’m catatonic). I’m just not going to wait in line with fedora’d vape dorks to pay double. Not just yet.

    I would like to say I cannot believe Seattle could manage only one store opening day, but somehow I can. I never thought this day could happen. Even if it’s only sorta happening.

    You know, now I disagree with myself: there’s a store where you can walk in and buy a bag of weed. Nevermind, this is great!

  3. I remember an ounce for $25 and if you wanted some really primo weed there was something called Acapulco gold and Maui Wowee for $30. Just wondering if there have been any price increases since then

  4. Here’s hoping that people will respect the fact that it’s still illegal to smoke outside. I don’t care what you do, but I’m asthmatic and don’t wish to be exposed to drugs. It’s my outdoors, too, and the law is on my side. If not, here’s hoping the cops issue lots of tickets. Please play nice!

    • What is it with “asthmatics” and “allergics” that crop out of the woodwork for this type of nonsense when it is not even CLOSE to the kind of air quality reduction that you are getting from industrial waste, from automobile emissions – things you should actually be focused on if you want to change the kind of air you breathe.

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  6. Thank you rucereal. And to all the asthmatics and allergies who start coughing the moment they pass me with a cigarette in my hand, at least wait until I light it.

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