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Washington state pot shortage is real but should burn out soon

Washington state has marijuana shortage for retail sales
Washington state has marijuana shortage for retail sales

Washington recreational marijuana retail shops are getting ready to open their doors, and they're already worried they will run out of pot before the day is over with many reporting that the pot supply is scarce for retailers as the lines surge during the first phase for recreational marijuana connoisseurs. Don’t fret, though -- Washington’s marijuana retail shops might be short on supply during their grand openings but that doesn’t mean they will be closing their doors anytime soon.

It’s been a long two years since Washington voters approved recreational pot in 2012. Mikhail Carpenter, a spokesman for the Washington State Liquor Control Board said, since they gave a 30 day window, which closed Friday Dec. 20, 2013, the board has accumulated more than “7,000 applications” from people who want to open their own shops.

He said the state has so far allowed 334 recreational marijuana licenses to potential retail shop owners, but with thousands of applicants, plus checking they meet the state requirements, only 24 so far have been approved. He said at this time the control board does not have any future plans to open another application window as they are still “processing” the current applications.

Another aspect to Washington’s weed shortage is the fact that “it’s the beginning of the market,” said Carpenter. “Each week we issue them [retail and producing licenses] -- it’s just tight in the beginning.” March 2014 was the first issuance of a license to grow pot. To date the board has approved 90 marijuana grower licenses.

“Once we reach about 2,000 the supply lines should start to stabilize,” said Carpenter. “Unlike Colorado, Washington state does not allow retailers to have any financial interest in producing (also known as growing and cultivating cannabis)." Colorado’s amendment 64 allowed more freedoms to the new industry like: medical marijuana licenses can surrender their current license and transfer it to a retail license, retail shops are allowed to have a financial interest in producing. Until October 2014, retail must meet the Medical marijuana code 70/30 the “vertical integration model.” Basically retail and medical pot shops must grow 70 percent of their own product.

Another layer of hiccups Washington applicants need to clear before picking out a building to set up shop will be to make sure they meet local governing agencies' retail recreational marijuana requirements. Since voters approved recreational marijuana, more than 64 local governments in Washington have either banned these shops or placed a moratorium on them. The burden is placed on the applicant to find out. “We’ll issue you a license but if you don’t meet local regulations that is on the applicant to work with their local governing agencies,” Carpenter said.

The pot shortage is real. According to Newsy, Cannabis City, a new recreational retail shop plans to fill 2,265 bags with 2 grams of marijuana, and estimates they will have about 5,000 customers during their grand opening. Another pot shop ready to open their doors also estimates their supply of 10 pounds will go quickly on the first day. However, Carpenter believes it will be short lived as more and more licenses are issued weekly.

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