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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.
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.
The Columbia River Gorge, a hub for hiking and windsurfing, may become a destination for another kind of recreation. North Bonneville, a city of about 1,000 residents in Skamania County, is toying with the idea of opening its own marijuana retail store under Initiative 502.
To understand the problem Washington faces with legal marijuana, it might be best to think of the state as a family with two children. The younger child, almost a year old and getting all the attention since before it was born last November, is recreational marijuana. Not even out of the crib yet, it’s being watched by concerned parents worried about every aspect of its growth, development and earning potential.
As medical marijuana supporters gird for a fight against further state controls, they are rallying around the case of Billy Fisher, a Spokane patient who has so far been denied custody of his infant daughter in part because he refused to attend an inpatient chemical dependency program for his use of the drug. The Department of Social and Health Services, which took the child from Fisher’s estranged wife, ordered an assessment of Fisher before placing the baby with him.