Marijuana Sales Now Legal, Exorbitant

Marijuana sales now legal, exorbitantly expensive, in Washington state.

By Casey Jaywork July 8, 2014


Just after noon today, Seattle’s one and only legal pot shop opened its doors to the public—Cannabis City, in Sodo. Cannabis City's first customer, self-described marathon-running grandmother Deb Greene (pictured above), said she’d been waiting since 3pm yesterday, when she accidentally became the front of the queue. “[The store owner] was like, ‘Oh, my first customer!’ And I was like, ‘I can’t back out now,’” she told PubliCola.

Hundreds of aspiring lawful potheads joined Greene outside Cannabis City to participate in the historic store opening. Beneath a blazing July sun, organizers corralled the crowd into a winding alleyway queue which, if straightened out, would have extended for three blocks. Harried employees sporting green wigs pleaded with observers and the press to keep the sidewalk clear. “Welcome to the start of the end of prohibition!” activist Jeremy Cooper cried to the sweaty but enthusiastic crowd.

Melanie Smith, a customer visiting from Puerto Rico, said she’s excited by the drug’s statewide legalization (federal laws still declare it verboten) and hopes the drug “becomes normalized” throughout the country. "Welcome to the start of the end of prohibition!” activist Jeremy Cooper cried to the sweaty but enthusiastic crowd.

Greene said she bought eight grams of marijuana for $160, at an average price of $20 per gram.

According to confidential sources, that’s roughly double the drug’s street price. Jacob Ishii, who identified himself as a licensed marijuana producer, said that the introduction of legal pot will likely wreak havoc on street prices. “There’s been this weird power vacuum over prices,” he said, speculating that the pseudo-legal status of the drug under medical marijuana laws drove prices down to historic lows. The introduction of licensed (but undersupplied) marijuana retailers, he speculated, may allow street dealers to make a killing in the next few months.

The line at Cannabis City on 4th St, Seattle.

Is the pot clean?

With the launch of the state’s first legal sales of marijuana to the general public, demand is quickly outstripping supply. So what’s to stop pot purveyors (thousands have applied, though not all have been issued applications) from sourcing their herb from the black market?

PubliCola posed this question to Liquor Control Board spokesman Brian Smith. According to Smith, marijuana is tracked by the LCB from seed through sale. By measuring volume at every step of production, refinement, and sale, he says, the LCB keeps tabs on the flow of legal weed, ensuring that unlicensed marijuana stays out of stores.

Currently, there are 86 active licensed marijuana producers in the state. Four of the five in King County are located in Seattle, while our city has only one retailer at the moment---Cannabis City.


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