SEATTLE — The nation’s second legal recreational marijuana market is opening in Washington state Tuesday, but it might not be what voters expected when they legalized the sale of heavily taxed pot a year and a half ago. Here are three things to know about challenges facing the industry:
The state’s Liquor Control Board plans to issue up to 20 marijuana retail licenses Monday and stores can open the next day if they’re ready. It’s not clear how many that will be. The Liquor Control Board was overwhelmed with nearly 7,000 pot-license applications. Reviewing them —has been slow. SODO’s Cannabis City will be the only Seattle location ready to go on the big day.
“It’s definitely exciting but also a little scary just having that much responsibility. All eyes are on us right now because we’re the first,” said Cannabis City Manager Amber McGowan.
She said the first pot delivery will come early Tuesday morning. Inside that truck, 2,265 small bags containing 2 grams each. Each bag will go for $54. Not even close to enough product for the 5,000 people they expect to start lining up before doors open at noon.
They plan to issue up to 20 marijuana retail licenses Monday across the state and stores can open the next day if they’re ready. It’s not clear how many that will be.
“It’s fairly sparse. We only have 10 pounds which will sell out the first day, no doubt about that,” McGowan added.
Related: Marijuana study backed by feds delayed after researcher's firing
Seventy-nine growers have been licensed, covering enough space for 10 football fields worth of pot. The Board said growers don’t expect to have their first shipment ready until late summer. “Will there be shortages?” asks Randy Simmons, the board’s legal-pot project manager. “The answer to that is yes.”
The board just announced that people who want to make pot-infused sodas, brownies or other treats must get approval for their products, and so far no one has.
People like Alison Draisin, who currently makes pot-infused brownies and other treats for medical marijuana patients will have new hoops to jump through before the general public gets a taste. The edible-makers will have to have child-proof packaging, strict labeling and their kitchens pass a state inspection. The board doesn’t want any gummy candies or anything that would appeal to children.
“I wanted to see how I-502 was going to pan out before applying for a 502 license so if there’s a second round we definitely would apply,” said Draisin who runs Ettalew’s Medibles.
All edible-makers also need to have their kitchens pass a state inspection. Two have been tested so far: One failed, with results pending on the other.