On Tuesday, Washington became the second state to allow people, living in and out of state, to buy marijuana legally in the Unites States without a doctor’s note. Several dozen people lined up outside shops like Top Shelf Cannabis, in Bellingham near Seattle, to purchase the drug as soon as state regulations allowed at 8 a.m. according to Gene Johnson’s article Washington pot shop customers cheer first legal sale. The start of the legal pot sales in Washington was a major step in a 20 month long process. Washington and Colorado voted to legalized marijuana back into November 2012 for adults over 21 and to create state licensing systems for growing, distributing and taxing pot. Sales of pot in Colorado began on Jan. 1. Washington issued its first 24 licenses Monday with six opening Tuesday, according to the Associate Press, and some opening later in the week or next and others opening in a month or more. While Colorado already had regulated medical marijuana system making its transition smoother to recreational selling, Washington’s unregulated medical marijuana system made for a bumpier transition since officials had to start from scratch to write regulations that made sense. Unfortunately, because growers and sellers were scrambling to prepare, product shortages caused the prices for pot to be higher as there are only 100 approved licensed growers in the state out of 2,600 applicants and only a dozen ready for harvest by early this month. The regulations included protocol for testing marijuana and requirements for child resistant packaging. Officials also had to determine how much criminal history was too much to get a license and what type of security systems pot shops and growers must have, the article reports. Washington law allows the sale of up to one ounce of dried marijuana, 16 ounces of pot-infused solids, 72 ounces of pot-infused liquids or 7 grams of concentrated marijuana, like hashish, to adults over 21.
Why not be smart about it whether legal or illegal? I think Washington state is taking a smart approach to the legalization of marijuana in the state. In Tacoma, Washington, state officials are looking for a green thumb with extensive knowledge of the black, or at least gray, market according to Huff Post. The state is trying to figure out how to regulate legalized marijuana, so why not hire an advisory on all things weed really from how to grow, dry, test, label, package and profit even make brownies. Hey take a page out of our foreign neighbors who have become pros at this…I am talking to you Amsterdam. On Wednesday, Tacoma saw its fair share of flannel and ponytails even men in suits and out of towners vying for the position as a pot consultant. The Liquor Control Board, the agency developing rules for the marijuana industry, reserved a convention hall for the state bidding expert to take questions about the new position. A pot related conviction is fine, but a heinous felony would not be acceptable. Washington and Colorado were the first this fall to legalize the recreational use of marijuana and have already started setting up systems for licensed growers, processors, and retail stores where anyone over 21 can buy an ounce of the heavily taxed product. Hey Obama maybe you should take a page from this and realize that people are going to use it anyway so why not collect some money instead of paying out money to fight something that is going to happen anyway. While planning is underway, the exact number of stores and growers is unclear as well as testing the pot to make sure no one gets sick. Sales will begin in December in Washington. The board has advertised in four categories for consulting services including product development, quality testing, regulations, and statistical analysis. The state is hoping for one contract but if that is not possible they will award multiple contracts in order to get the best expertise. The bids are due by Feb. 15, but the contract will not be awarded til March. Whoever wins the bid cannot also have a state license to grow, process, or sell it as it would be a conflict of interest, but once the contract is up they can apply. State and federal governments are missing out on a great revenue opportunity to help with the deficits most states and the federal government are trying to deal with right now.