Washington’s Recreational Marijuana Retail Debut

Last updated on November 4th, 2019

Despite anticipated drama, Washington survived its first day of legal pot sales.

The state voted to legalize recreational marijuana in November 2012 and, shortly afterward, began creating state-licensed systems for growing, selling and taxing weed. Twenty months later, Washington finally saw recreational marijuana sales come to fruition this week. After receiving state-issued dispensary licenses on Monday, 24 stores officially opened for business on Tuesday, July 8, 2014.

Here are more highlights from Washington’s recreational marijuana debut:

  • State officials handed out 24 dispensary licenses on Monday.
  • With only a handful of licensed growers in the state, dispensaries were left with a limited supply of weed in a matter of hours.
  • The marijuana sold by stores in Seattle, Bellingham, Prosser and Spokane is “regulated.” That means the weed is tested for impurities and heavily taxed by the state.
  • With nothing to sell, the shortage of regulated marijuana kept several Washington shops from opening their doors on Tuesday.
  • In the coming days and weeks, more weed will become available. The supply is expected to peak sometime in December, when the marijuana plants are normally being cultivated and cured for sale.
  • Although 2,600 people applied for growers’ licenses, only 100 have been approved, 12 of which were mature enough to harvest before the start of legal sales.
  • Although state regulators accepted 334 marijuana retail applications, the Washington State Liquor Control Board said a majority of the applicants have yet to pass final inspections, and some municipalities also have banned the retail sale of marijuana.
  • Top Shelf, a Bellingham-based dispensary, gave new meaning to the adage “an early bird gets the worm.” For the first 50 to 100 buyers, the store offered marijuana options for $10 or less immediately after the 8 a.m. grand opening.
  • Seattle’s first pot shop, Cannabis City, opened its doors at noon. Customers were eagerly waiting in line as the owner, James Lathrop, welcomed customers and declared it was time to “free the weed.”
  • The price of marijuana topped $25 a gram on Tuesday, almost twice what the state’s unregulated medical marijuana dispensaries charge.
  • Supply and demand are dramatically uneven; demand for marijuana is at an all-time high (no pun intended), while the supply struggles to keep up.
  • Despite their popularity, THC edibles were not on the menu Tuesday. The alternate form of marijuana launched a heated controversy, leading to a series of complex rules/regulations and a mandate that each edible be approved by the Washington Liquor Control Board.


Also Read: Medical Marijuana is Now Legal in New York

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