Pubdate: Mon, 29 Sep 2014
Source: USA Today (US)
Copyright: 2014 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc
Author: Trevor Hughes


A little more than two months after Washington launched recreational 
marijuana sales, you would be hard pressed to stumble upon any pot 
shops in the state's biggest city: Until this weekend, only one 
marijuana store was open in Seattle, and getting there required a 
trek through industrial developments far from downtown.

And when you reach the store, you might not find any pot on the shelves.

"We're not doing well because we don't have anything to sell," said 
James Lathrop, owner of Cannabis City in Seattle. "It's really an 
insane business."

Washington's tough approach to regulating marijuana growers and 
retailers means only 60 marijuana-store licenses have been granted, 
and it's unclear exactly how many of them have actually opened. Some 
marijuana store owners say the regulations and scarce supply of legal 
weed are making it hard to shepherd the industry away from the black 
market and toward paying taxes.

Like Colorado, Washington this year began allowing consumers to 
legally buy marijuana for fun.

Ninety miles to the north at Bellingham's Top Shelf Cannabis, store 
investor John Evich has plenty of product on his shelves. "We're 
learning as we go," he said.

Evich attributes his solid supplies to close connections with the 
growing community, which he nurtured for months before the store opened July 8.

The short supplies, along with the dearth of stores, highlight 
significant differences between the recreational marijuana systems in 
Colorado and Washington. More than two dozen marijuana stores serve 
downtown Denver, and Colorado has licensed more than 230 retail stores.

In Washington, recreational marijuana must be grown by a licensed 
farmer, go through a licensed processor and be sent to a separate 
retailer. Retailers can't grow the marijuana they sell.

Evich said he expects supply problems to ease by next year.

"The public image is changing, and fast," he said. "We're not trying 
to get rich on dollars. We're trying to get rich on clientele and trust."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom