Some stoners may have to get a second job to afford legal marijuana in Washington state. Recent reports indicate that high times will call for high prices once the Liquor Control Board issues the state’s first round of retail reefer licenses next month.
Earlier this week, the Liquor Control Board announced it would issue the first 20 retail marijuana licenses on July 7, with dispensaries permitted to open for business the next day. Previous reports speculated that legal weed sales in Washington would begin on July 1, but due to the addition of emergency regulations surrounding the labeling of edible products, those predictions were premature.
However, retailers say the cannabis consumer may need more time to save up enough money to visit Washington weed slingers on the first day of legal sales. Michael Perkins, who is hopeful he will open a store in Seattle on July 8, says customers will need to come prepared to pay above average prices for marijuana in the beginning.
“I would assume $20 to $25 a gram until the producers reduce their prices,” he said. ”I expect to see demand for the 502 (marijuana). I expect to run out of product. And, I expect the people coming to run over and try to get a (medical) card … so they can go to a medical store next door.”
There are fears the squeeze of high costs will defeat the purpose of legal weed and drive the marijuana consumer back to the black market. Yet, most retailers feel confident the illegal trade will not have an impact on retail sales. “I think it’s something completely different,” said one Seattle-based retailer, who wishes to remain anonymous.
Although pot prices are expected to be relatively high at the start of legal sales, this has less to do with green-eyed greed and is more about an under-supplied market. So far, the Liquor Control Board has only issued processing licenses to around 50 growers, which retailers expect will cause supply problems as well as ramp up the prices.
Some retailers predict prices will come down around November and December after the outdoor crops are harvested. Yet, not even a plentiful pot supply will allow retail marijuana prices to be competitive with the black market. Buyers must still contend with state’s 44 percent tax rate on recreational marijuana.
Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in High Times, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.