Pubdate: Thu, 13 Nov 2014
Source: USA Today (US)
Copyright: 2014 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc
Author: Trevor Hughes


A Washington state farmer is selling a ton of marijuana - literally 
2,000 pounds - to the highest bidder in one of the first large-scale 
legal pot auctions in modern U.S. history.

On Saturday, Randy Williams of Fireweed Farm in Prosser, Wash., will 
offer for sale the marijuana he's been growing all summer. Most legal 
marijuana in Colorado and Washington, the only states with legal 
recreational marketplaces, is grown indoors under electricity-hogging 
lights in much smaller batches.

Colorado's marijuana growers this fall harvested their first crops of 
outdoor-grown cannabis, and now farmers like Williams are bringing 
their pot to market in Washington. At retail prices, Williams' crop 
could be worth $6 million. Many of the plants are a dozen-feet tall, 
grown in the wine region just north of the Columbia River Valley in 
south-central Washington.

"It's like regular farming - you grow in the spring and summer, 
harvest in the fall and then you go to Cabo for the winter," joked 
Greg James, publisher of the industry magazine Marijuana Venture.

James has been helping Williams advertise the sale. Under 
Washington's marijuana law, only state-certified processors and 
retailers can buy Williams' crop, and he's not allowed to sell it 
directly to consumers.

Washington's law separates growers, processors and retailers, while 
store owners in Colorado often grow most of their own marijuana, 
which means there's no need to auction it off.

Washington also permits medical marijuana, but that system is less 
structured and is in a regulatory gray area.

Washington's recreational sales began this summer, and stores have 
been plagued with marijuana supply shortages. In Seattle, for 
instance, Cannabis City resorted to flying a flag outside whenever it 
had highquality marijuana available.

Washington retailers have been eagerly awaiting the outdoor harvest, 
which has the potential to drive down prices by significantly 
increasing supply.

Outdoor-grown marijuana is susceptible to uncertainties, from pests 
to wind damage, but harvests can be larger and cost less.
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