Washington pot retailers are finally getting to open up shop after legalizing marijuana in 2012, and already, they're worried about running out of product. While Colorado's retail stores opened up in January, racking up around $114 million within the first four months, Washington's been facing some hurdles in getting their budding (heh) industry off the ground.
According to AP, about 20 shops are set to receive their licenses tomorrow, meaning they can open their doors for the first time on Tuesday. This is historic and exciting and all, but shops are scrambling because the most important part—the marijuana—is proving to be a sticky (went there) situation. Strict regulations on growers have hindered the amount of available marijuana, which poses a pretty big problem. Via Reuters:
Washington is also grappling with a backlog of hundreds of would-be growers who still need to be screened by overwhelmed investigators with the state Liquor Control Board, agency spokesman Brian Smith said.
The board has so far licensed fewer than 80 growers statewide, out of more than 2,600 applicants. And only a fraction of their pot — roughly 560,000 square feet is in production, or about 10 football fields' worth — has gone through required lab-testing. Many harvests won't be ready by early July.
On top of that, people will be left to their own devices when it comes to edibles like brownies, bars, or candy, because no kitchens have been approved.
Shops in Colorado also ran out of weed during the "green rush" in January, but were able to reup fairly smoothly. Also, Colorado skipped out on the growers backlog as retailers must grow 70% of the marijuana they're selling, a remarkable challenge. As Sam Brasch at the Modern Farmer puts it:
Colorado, in other words, has adopted the brewpub model, with most of the product being produced on site. Washington, on the other hand, is something more like a liquor store, with production handled elsewhere.
Given the added hit (fine, that's a stretch) of a much higher price for weed with a single gram going for $15-$35 and possibly more, what, with scarcity and pot tourists, it will be interesting to see how Washington fares in America's great legalization experiment.
Image via AP.