Financial News

  • 9 July 2014, 5:09

Washington State Issues Marijuana Shop Licences

Marijuana retail shop owners in Washington state have been given the green light to open their doors after a series of licences were granted via overnight emails.

Some two dozen pot shops will be permitted to sell cannabis to the public beginning at 8am on Tuesday.

The move will officially make Washington the second state behind Colorado to allow marijuana sales for recreational use.

"We're pretty stoked," said John Evich, an investor in a cannabis shop in Bellingham, north of Seattle.

Washington and Colorado voted in November 2012 to legalise marijuana for adults over 21, and to create state-licenced systems for growing, selling and taxing the pot.

Sales began in Colorado on January 1, resulting in roughly $2m (1.2m) in marijuana taxes in the first month.

Officials in Washington eventually expect to have more than 300 recreational pot shops across the state.

It remained unclear how many of the shops already granted licences planned to open on Tuesday.

James Lathrop, the owner of Seattle-based Cannabis City, worked into the night on Sunday to have his shop ready for Tuesday's launch.

He said: "I've had a long day. It really hasn't sunk in yet."

He said that he planned to hold off on opening his doors until noon on Tuesday despite the 8am privilege.

"Know your audience: We're talking stoners here. I'd be mean to say they need to get up at 5am to get in line," he said.

Mr Lathrop said he has arranged for a food truck, free water and a portable toilet to accommodate patrons who might spend hours queuing outside his shop.

Meanwhile, limited supply is expected to send pot prices soaring to $25 (14.60) a gram or higher on the first day of sales - twice what people pay in the state's unregulated medical marijuana dispensaries.

Fewer than 100 of the more than 2,600 applications to become licenced marijuana growers have been approved by the state, and only about a dozen of those were prepared to harvest by the start of July.

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