As Washington leisurely prepares to launch the state’s newfound recreational marijuana trade, there appears to be mass confusion on behalf of both licensees and the Liquor Control Board. The main question posed by all of those chosen to pioneer the state’s stoner industry: How in the hell do we actually do this?
“There are no road maps for it,” said Clark County grower Brian Stroh, whose CannaMan Farms holds one of the state’s 10 marijuana production licenses. “It’s completely brand new and there’s no infrastructure.”
Just last week, the Liquor Control Board released the state’s first wave of retail licenses, but now that the green light has been given there is still enough uncertainty and fear to create obstacles for those attempting to establish business basics. “Anything that other businesses take for granted is a challenge,” says Stroh. “Finding property, insurance, banking -- no one wants to be in a position of taking money from something that could be construed as federally illegal.”
Although the consensus is that all Washington State has to do is look to Colorado for guides on how to operate a marijuana commerce, Mikhail Carpenter, a spokesperson for the Liquor Control Board, says that where Colorado already had an successful medical marijuana program to mimic, Washington has been forced to build its “controlled market” from scratch. “It’s been a wild ride,” he said. “We all woke up the day after the election and went, ‘Wow, alright, time to deal with marijuana.’”
Cultivation operations, like CannaMan Farms, were granted permission to begin processing marijuana plants in mid-March. However, Stroh says the process has not been all green thumbs. “It’s farming, so we have to test everything out,” he said. “Like anything, there are growing pains.”
Retail marijuana sales are expected to begin in July, but the state must first conduct extensive background checks and financial investigations on the 334 pot businesses selected from last month’s lottery to determine who will receive confirmed licensing approval.