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Spokane County’s nine recreational marijuana stores all reported sales in December higher than the previous month, pushing the legal market above $1.2 million as it continues to grow and gain traction with lending agencies statewide. The retail growth comes at a time when some planning officials and elected representatives are pushing to stanch the spread of the recreational and medicinal markets through moratoriums and other measures. In the midst of that climate, Steve Burks opened the area’s newest dispensary, Treehouse Club, at 14421 E. Trent Ave., in a renovated house.
Three stores in north Spokane are among the 25 applicants awarded Washington’s first licenses to sell recreational marijuana, but only one expects to open today, the first day such sales are legal. The state Liquor Control Board announced the first list of store licenses it is issuing for communities across Washington on Monday. Of the 10 in Eastern Washington, three are in the Spokane area.
OLYMPIA – When recreational marijuana stores open in Washington next month, state officials know many customers will be unfamiliar with the strength of the newly legal drug. They hope strict rules on labeling and packaging will help avoid some of the overdose problems recently reported in Colorado, the only other state where recreational marijuana use is legal. But they also will launch a public education program to encourage responsible use.
Spokane County commissioners may have thrown a wrench into the plans of some would-be marijuana growers hoping to set up in rural areas. An interim zoning ordinance approved Monday says anyone growing recreational marijuana will have to be on at least 8 acres, with plenty of space between the fields or buildings and the property lines.
With more than 1,100 applications to grow legal marijuana in Washington, the state has no shortage of would-be entrepreneurs eager to jump into the new industry created by voters last year. But don’t expect the successful marijuana-growing businesses to feature aging hippies sporting tie-dyed shirts and vacant looks. Stringent state regulations for security, testing and tracking mean legal marijuana production will consist of more than planting a few seeds or cuttings, watching them grow and harvesting a crop in the backyard. Some of Eastern Washington’s first marijuana crop might be grown and harvested in converted warehouses between a gravel pit and Spokane International Airport in a West Plains industrial park.
Washington should severely cut the amount of marijuana that medical patients can possess, require them to register with the state and have annual medical checkups, and pay most of the same taxes as recreational users, a state agency recommended Wednesday. In a move sure to draw fire from the medical marijuana community, the state Liquor Control Board released recommendations it will send to next year’s Legislature as the state tries to blend two sets of laws on the drug.
It was late on a Friday afternoon in the spring of 2012. The auction of state liquor stores was drawing to a close, and Byron Roselli had a group of clients in his Vancouver office, all bidding to become new business owners in the freed-up, privatized Washington booze market. The state was selling off the rights to its liquor stores, pitching it as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity, Roselli said. But it became clear that the bidders were going over the top – everyone watching, he said, was shocked as the bids rose and rose, into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
SEATTLE – A select group of minors will go into Washington’s new legal pot stores on a covert mission: to try to buy weed for the state. To curtail youth access to legal marijuana, state officials want to use minors in pot-buying stings next year when stores are expected to open.
DENVER – Colorado’s hearty embrace of a 25 percent marijuana tax this week could prove a turning point for legalization backers. They have long argued that weed should come out of the black market and contribute to tax coffers instead of prison populations. But it’s far too soon to say how much revenue the marijuana taxes in Colorado and Washington will actually produce when retail sales begin next year.
Eastern Washington farmers mingled with slickly dressed potential marijuana retailers in Spokane on Wednesday, all eager to grab a piece of the state’s blossoming licensed pot industry. “I started out about a year and a half ago,” said Sam Calvert, a sport-coated entrepreneur currently eyeing Spokane office space for his planned retail pot venture. “I want to get in on the ground level.”
OLYMPIA – Potential growers, processors and vendors of marijuana will be able to apply for state licenses in one month. On Wednesday, the agency in charge of setting up Washington’s recreational marijuana system approved rules businesses will have to follow to get the industry off the ground.