Here’s what you need to know about Washington State’s recreational roll-out.
The moment in history has arrived—enabling citizens to walk into a store and LEGALLY buy a bag of marijuana! But hold on a sec…
If there’s any way you can wait a few days to buy your legal weed from a recreational store in Washington State, you should. Seattle’s first retail pot shop, Cannabis City, is going to be a mob-scene when the doors open at (high) noon – and then they’re gonna run out of marijuana. The same will be true with the other 23 stores given retail licenses by the state today.
Though Washington State made weed legal a year and a half ago with the passage of Initiative 502, it’s taken some time to fine-tune the details. State agencies have had to vet growers, deal with inspections (now there’s a fun job!), quarantine herb before it could be shipped, and grant licenses to retailers who then had to install security cameras, tinted windows, pot-tracking software(!) and hopefully a Slurpee machine! (Imagine if they ran these kinds of background checks for folks trying to buy firearms!)
Right off the bat, there will be extremely limited supplies for ganja, as only 79 growers got the permits (from over 7000 applications), and most those harvests won’t come in until late this month. So if you were looking forward to the PowerPurpleKushBerryCrunch that won the Cannabis Cup, yer gonna be waiting a bit longer. But hey—all good things are worth waiting for—besides, that SuperChronicHydroponic stuff will put you on the couch for days on end. Moderation, man! Prices will start high (up to $400 an ounce—ouch), but like Teslas, Furby dolls and the Galaxy S5, come down over time. Besides, would you rather pay $25 for a legal gram, or go black-market style, potentially rooming in the tank with Big Bubba while funding Mexican cartels and an over-crowded and money-sucking prison system?
Oh—and those Reefer’s Peanut Butter cup brownies you were so excited to try—that ain’t gonna happen anytime soon either. No edibles have so far been given the green light in Washington, as the process for licensing kitchens has been painfully slow. (Part of the debate has been a good one, with lawmakers wishing to make sure THC-laden edibles and sodas are not targeted to kids and that labels are clear enough even for Maureen Dowd to understand.) While I like the idea of child-resistant packaging, it’s hard enough for non-stoned adults to open a damn aspirin bottle, so I do hope they don’t make things too difficult…
Within a month or so, things will be running as smooth as the cool-kids have it goin’ on in Colorado, with varied and plentiful products, 200 additional stores opening their doors, prices settling, and more tax dollars than ever to blow on items like roads, infrastructure, and, hopefully, drug education and teacher’s salaries.
Unlike Colorado, a major hurdle in Washington that has yet to be addressed is the way medical marijuana dispensaries will be treated. For over 15 years, many medical patients and dispensaries have grown their own, and are running afoul with the Feds who, for some reason, are still aggressively going after cancer patients and others truly in need of the weed. The good news for those who do have marijuana cards—the strange and unregulated gray-area they currently reside in allows them to purchase edibles of all-kinds – including licorice chews, gourmet chocolates and marijuana-infused hard candies. Not that I’ve tried any…
When it comes to the marijuana movement, it’s important to keep the mellow in mind, and visualize the Big Picture. As of this very moment: two States have legalized weed, and 20 more are scheduled to vote on the issue in the next two years. Like marriage equality, the Green Rush is going to happen—we just need the naysayers, scare-mongers and right-wing fundamentalists to come to their senses or, more likely, succumb to the will of the people—and the democratic process.
For more up-to-the-minute marijuana news and humorous diatribes, check out Stusser’s ground-breaking new show, Higher Ground!
Photo credit: Torben Hansen/flickr