Though the two states voted to legalize recreational cannabis at the same time in 2012, Washington has been much slower to get businesses off the ground than Colorado, which started selling weed in January. This week, the wait is finally over.
Washington will issue the first of its recreational selling licenses today, and shops are expected to open their doors tomorrow. Sellers — like James Lathrop, owner of Cannabis City, Seattle's lone pot shop — are already preparing for a shortage. From Reuters:
"What do you do when your shelves are empty? Do I just send everybody home? Do we try and stay open? I can't pay people if we aren't selling anything," said Lathrop, who expects to become one of Washington state's first legal marijuana retailers this week as the state issues licenses.
The state only began issuing licenses to grow weed for recreational use in March, meaning growers haven't had time to harvest enough product to fill shelves. The shortage also means Washington weed will be expensive: the New York Times reports that an ounce of store-bought pot will initially cost about $400 — about what you'd pay on the street in New York City.
Only 20 of the 334 businesses granted a license will receive it today, according to the Times, and none will be able to sell edibles — big, controversial business in Colorado — because no kitchens have met Washington's regulations.
One grower believes the bud drought will last weeks after the initial supply sells out tomorrow:
[Sea of Green owner Bob Leeds] said he charges stores about $3,000 to $4,500 per pound, or $7 to $10 per gram before local, state and excise taxes, and any retail mark-up. He predicts stores will sell out within hours of opening on Tuesday.
"There won't be any more until weeks from now," he said. "We'll have our second crop in July."
Leeds told Reuters he believes it will take growers up to five years to catch up with consumer demand. If you're a Washington weed-smoker looking to make history tomorrow, be ready to wake up early and stand in long lines.
[Image via AP]